Australia: Shares end the week higher

[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended up on Friday to log their best week in six, helped by gains in the healthcare sector and as mining giant BHP Group hit a record high, with investors looking past the lockdowns in the country's two most populous cities.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.17 per cent to 7,348.1 points, but was held back by major banks and technology firms.

The Australian state of Victoria was ordered into a five-day lockdown on Thursday following a spike in Covid-19 infections, joining Sydney as they battle an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The healthcare sector, that makes a bulk of its earnings in US dollars, was the top gainer on the benchmark index, closing 0.7 per cent higher as the greenback advanced overnight.

Shares in the world's largest-listed miner BHP Group also scaled a peak as iron ore futures ticked higher and as brokerages expect the miner to gain from increased iron ore shipments and higher prices.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 12673.2.

New Zealand's consumer price index beat expectations in the second quarter, soaring the most in about a decade, leading to more bets that the central bank may tighten policy as early as August.

REUTERS

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