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Australia: Shares end higher; slip 5.5% in January


[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended 0.6 per cent higher on Friday in see-saw trade, after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly slashed its benchmark interest rate below zero and a rebound in Chinese stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 29.34 points at the close of trade to 5,005.50. The benchmark rose 0.6 per cent on Thursday.

Gains were led by banks, energy and telecom shares with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac rising more than 1 per cent each. Major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 1.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively while Fortescue Metals jumped about 14 per cent.

The benchmark slipped 5.5 per cent in January, posting its biggest monthly drop since August 2015. It had its best weekly show since Christmas, climbing 1.8 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.33 per cent or 20.52 points to finish the session at 6,170.22.