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Australia: Shares edge higher on banks and strong earnings; NZ rises


[BENGALURU] Australian shares ticked up on Friday, following a strong lead from Wall Street, with financials driving gains along with Link Administration Holdings and Goodman Group which rose on strong earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 per cent or 7.8 points to 6,335.90 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark closed flat on Thursday.

US stocks rebounded on Thursday with the Dow posting its biggest percentage gain in over four months.

Tracking US peers, Australian banks led gains on Friday, with the financial index rising 0.2 per cent to its highest since March 14.

"The yield players will continue to outperform, we are seeing money coming to work for the banks," Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut, said.

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Westpac Banking Corp firmed 0.7 per cent to a more than three-month high, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd was up 0.6 per cent at it highest since November 2017.

Goodman Group Pty Ltd said on Friday annual statutory profit surged 41.1 per cent, pushing the property group's stock 3.1 per cent higher to a near ten-year high.

Shares in Link Administration Holdings Ltd gained as much as 9.8 per cent to their highest since May 9 after the outsourced administration service provider reported a 67.5 per cent jump in full-year net profit.

Teleco Telstra Corporation Ltd also helped keep the benchmark buoyant, rising about 2 per cent to a more than three-month high.

Telstra was extending gains after posting a lower than expected fall in annual profits on Thursday.

On the downside, weakness in Origin Energy Ltd and health care stocks kept the benchmark's gains in check.

Origin extended losses as it dipped as much as 3.5 per cent to a more than four-month low after underlying earnings of its energy markets business fell short of expectations.

Health care stocks, which earn a substantial portion of their income in the US, were under the cosh due to a firmer Aussie dollar.

CSL Ltd, the country's fifth largest company by market value, slipped 0.7 per cent, while Sonic Healthcare Ltd dipped 2.7 per cent.

Materials were also in red, dragged down by lower iron ore prices. Global miner BHP dipped 0.4 per cent, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd fell 1.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 per cent or 40.22 points to 9,039.13.

Health care stocks led the gains, with Ryman Healthcare Ltd jumping 2.6 per cent to a record high, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd firmed 0.5 per cent to its highest since July 10.


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