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Australia: Shares edge up as financials, Myer rise; NZ gains


[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed the week slightly higher, with Friday's session underpinned by gains in financial stocks in step with a strong rally on Wall Street after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's hawkish comments.

A sharp rally in shares of Australia's biggest up-market department store operator, Myer Holdings Ltd, also supported market sentiment. The stock jumped as much as 10.6 per cent as the retail giant flagged a return to profit in 2017 financial year after net income fell for the past six financial years.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.3 per cent, or 20.862 points higher, to 5,259.4 at the close of trade. The benchmark closed down 0.2 per cent for the week.

Financial stocks led gainers with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp, tacking on around 0.3 per cent.

S&P ASX Financials Index gained as much as 0.7 per cent to hit a three-week high.

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Telecom stocks rallied as Telstra Corp rose as much as 2.6 per cent for its third straight session of gains as investors reacted positively to news of big cost cuts over the next five years.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.6 per cent or 43.180 points higher to 6,857.84. The benchmark closed 2.4 per cent higher for the week, snapping six sessions of losses.

The index was helped by blue-chip Auckland International Airport rising 3.3 percent.

World's biggest dairy exporter Fonterra fell almost 2 per cent.


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