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Australia shares make modest gains on oil, NZ firmer
[SYDNEY] Australian shares were slightly firmer on Friday as a bounce in oil prices aided the energy and commodity sector, though disappointing economic data from China took the shine off a record finish on Wall Street.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.17 per cent, or 9.4 points, to 5,517 by 0245 GMT.
That left the market up 0.4 per cent for the week, a modest performance given it was a week after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut interest rates to a record low of 1.5 per cent.
The market had started well enough after all three major US stock indexes ended Thursday at record highs for the first time since 1999.
A 4 per cent rally in oil prices helped the energy sector put on 0.7 per cent, with Santos adding 3.3 per cent.
Data out of China was not so supportive with retail sales, industrial output and property investment all missing forecasts. China is Australia's single biggest trade customer taking a third of its exports.
Westpac Banking Corp extended its recent decline, falling 1.7 per cent to a four-week trough in the wake of an earnings update that showed shrinking revenue from markets and rising funding costs.
Brokerage Bell Potter cut its price target for the bank, while Morningstar cut its fair value estimate.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index tracked global equities markets and rose 0.2 per cent or 19.72 points to 7,373.55 on Friday.
The index was poised for a weekly rise of 0.9 per cent, back on a winning streak after a loss the previous week.
Steel & Tube led gains, rising 4.7 per cent, after the steel goods manufacturer posted a 20 per cent rise in full-year profit and said it was optimistic the company's performance would be stronger the next year.
Dairy company Synlait Milk rose as much as 5.7 per cent, after announcing an upbeat profit forecast based on strong milk formula sales.
Dairy company A2 Milk rose 2.9 per cent, while shares in Fonterra's fund, which provides investor exposure to the farmer-owned dairy exporter, were up 0.3 per cent.