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Australia: Shares post best performance in 3 years

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed lower on Friday, but ended having had their best quarter this year and their best yearly run since 2013.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.58 per cent, or 33.27 points, at 5,665.8 on Friday, pulled down by poor performances in financial and basic material stocks.

The benchmark financial index fell 1.1 per cent on Friday as US and European bank shares eased on profit taking with the "Big Four" banks losing over a percent each.

On the year, the index gained 4.2 per cent, as Australia and New Zealand Bank shares added 9.2 per cent, while National Australia Bank shares were up 5.5 per cent, both posting their best yearly performance since 2013.

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However, shares in Australia's biggest bank by market capitalisation, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, lost 3.7 per cent this year, the biggest yearly loss in five years, while Westpac Banking shares lost nearly three per cent, falling after four straight gaining years.

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index closed the session 0.16 per cent lower, or 11.06 points, at 6,881.22, with the decline being led by financials and industrials. The benchmark gained 8.8 per cent on the year.

Westpac Banking Corp lost 1.1 percent on the day and 5.2 per cent annually, its steepest yearly fall since 2011.

Auckland International Airport Ltd ended the year down 4.58 per cent, but gained 8.7 per cent on the year.