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Australia: Shares hoisted by positive White House comments on trade deal
[BENGALURU] Australian shares advanced on Friday, capping a second straight week of gains, as fresh signs of progress in the US-China trade talks brightened the mood for risky assets.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session 0.9 per cent higher at 6,793.70, capping a 1.04 per cent weekly gain. The benchmark rose 0.6 per cent on Thursday.
US White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the world's two largest economies are getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called "very constructive" discussions with Beijing.
Still, any increase in appetite for risky assets could be short lived, given the very fluid nature of the Sino-US trade talks, according to a note issued by OCBC analyst Terence Wu.
The heavyweight mining sector ended the session more than 1 per cent higher, helped by an increase in iron ore prices. The sub-index marked its first weekly loss since the five days ended Oct. 18.
The world's largest miner BHP Group Ltd rose about 1.8 per cent to close at its highest in over a week, while peer Rio Tinto Ltd gained about 1.2 per cent.
Healthcare stocks climbed 1.25 per cent to close at a record high, while marking their seventh consecutive week of gains, as CSL Ltd's 1.7 per cent climb helped boost the sub-index. The heavyweight drugmaker ended the session at a fresh peak and provided the biggest boost for the sector.
Tech stocks maintained their winning streak for a seventh consecutive session, rising nearly 2 per cent to make their biggest weekly gain since early August.
Index behemoth Wisetech closed about 1.8 per cent higher while Afterpay Touch Group ended 4.5 per cent up.
The energy space inched up 0.7 per cent as its components gained from a rise in oil prices on optimsm over a US-China trade deal and on hopes that OPEC will curb supplies.
Major oil and gas players Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search each gained about 0.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, agribusiness company Graincorp finished 11.2 per cent higher and was the biggest percentage gainer on the benchmark after Australia's competition regulator approved the takeover of the company's domestic bulk liquids terminals business by ANZ Terminals.
The regulatory obstacles had kept the deal on hold, delaying Graincorp's restructuring efforts.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index erased earlier gains to inch 0.04 per cent lower, ending at 10,894.70.
Movie software developer Vista Group fell 3.2 per cent and was top loser on the New Zealand benchmark, followed by tourism company Tourism Holdings which declined almost 3 per cent to a week's low.