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Australia shares close up, see best week since March-end; NZ gains


[BENGALURU] Australian shares pared early advances on Friday even as they notched their biggest weekly gain in over two months, as losses in the basic materials and industrials sectors weighed.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.2 per cent, or 10.81 points, at 5,774.

The benchmark, which fell 1.2 per cent on Thursday, added 1.7 per cent on the week, its best weekly performance week since March-end.

Analysts attributed some of this week's gain to buying by self-managed super funds (SMSF) and net purchases by foreigners.

Tony Farnham, an economist with Patersons Securities, said individuals have been buying shares ahead of July 1, when superannuation regulations change.

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Among the 'Big Four' banks, National Australia Bank and ANZ were the biggest gainers on the benchmark by weight, up 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively.

"We've got the bank levy and other uncertainties, but at the moment I think there's a degree of confidence that profit numbers pre-bank levy were quite solid and dividend yields were still solid to retail investors," Mr Farnham said.

The financial index gained 2.5 per cent this week.

Basic materials shares, however, remained pressured by continuing weakness in commodity prices, compounded by a poor outlook.

Rio Tinto was 0.3 per cent lower and rival BHP declined marginally.

Industrials were hurt by Sydney Airport Holdings shares, which shed 2.3 per cent and were the biggest drag on the main board.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.5 per cent, or 36.40 points, higher at 7,552.75.

It added 1.6 per cent on the week.

Consumer stocks were the biggest gainers driven up by a2 Milk shares, which added 8.2 per cent after the dairy products maker raised its full-year group revenue forecast earlier in the day.


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