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Australia: Shares close higher, up strongly on week


[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended higher on Friday, shaking off a negative lead from Wall Street after the head of the central bank made reassuring comments about the economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5 per cent, or 23.7 points, higher at 5,170.5, taking this week's gains to 2 per cent.

Contributing to the positive session, all of the big four banks closed in the black, led by a 1.3 per cent rally in Westpac Banking Corp.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens gave an upbeat assessment of the economy, helping offset a more cautious tone from the Federal Reserve, which delayed a long-expected hike in US interest rates.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index closed 0.3 per cent, or 17.8 points, higher at 5,712.1.


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