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Australia: Shares headed for 4th week of gains in 5; NZ inches up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Friday, on track for its fourth week of gains in five, tracking Wall Street where financials and industrials climbed on tax cut hopes.

The S&P closed at a record high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above the 24,000 mark for the first time on Thursday as investors gained confidence that the Republican party's push for a US tax overhaul would succeed.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent or 26.908 points to 5,996.800 by 0114 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.7 per cent on Thursday.

Eight out of 10 sectors gained, and the benchmark rose 0.3 per cent on a weekly basis.

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"Positive sentiment is driving everything. We have had a bit of a bounce on the banks who got smoked yesterday on royal commission worry. People want to buy exposure, so they're buying the banks. Pretty much all the sectors are doing well. We are running good global sentiment," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

Financials accounted for most of the benchmark index gains, after posting their biggest percentage loss in over 2-weeks on Thursday on a government inquiry into banks.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, rose 1.2 per cent, while Westpac Banking Corp gained 0.6 per cent.

Energy stocks were the best performers, with the Australian energy index climbing 1.7 per cent to its highest in more than 3-weeks.

Oil rose on Thursday after Opec and non-Opec producers led by Russia agreed to extend output cuts until the end of 2018.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd ticked up 1.5 per cent, while Origin Energy Ltd gained 2.1 per cent.

Beach Energy Ltd soared as much as 6.7 per cent and was the top percentage gainer on the benchmark.

Healthcare stocks also firmed, with CSL Ltd rising 1.4 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 per cent or 9.91 points to 8,196.73. For the week, it advanced 0.9 per cent, on track for a third consecutive week of gains.

New Zealand's terms of trade hit a record high in the third quarter, pointing to a brighter outlook for a key growth driver at a time when the rest of the economy is encountering headwinds.

Heavyweight Auckland International Airport Ltd rose 1.3 per cent, while Contact Energy Ltd climbed 1.5 per cent.

The world's biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, requested a trading halt to have time to consider the outcome of its arbitration with Danone SA regarding its 2013 whey protein concentrate precautionary recall.

Fonterra has been ordered to pay French company Danone 105 million euros (S$168.5 million) in damages over the recall in 2013 of its whey protein concentrate due to a contamination scare, the two companies said.