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Australia: Shares post best week in six months, NZ hits record close

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares posted their best week in six months on Friday, capping an eventful week that saw the government pledge billions to pull the economy out of recession and US President Donald Trump send mixed signals on Covid-19 relief measures.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed unchanged at 6,102.2 after flitting between small gains and losses throughout the session. For the week, it added 5.4 per cent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.4 per cent to 12,280.54, extending gains to an eighth session and posting a record closing high. For the week, the index added 3.9 per cent.

Calling the Australian benchmark's Friday move a "quiet end to a good week", Henry Jennings, a senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter, said the market was pausing to consolidate.

"There are too many unknowns out there this weekend, with stimulus and tweets from the White House to take any big bets," Mr Jennings said.

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Helping market sentiment further, Australia reported its second straight day without any Covid-19 deaths, the longest stretch without any fatalities from the virus in three months.

All major sub-indexes posted big gains for the week, with energy emerging as the top winner with a 9 per cent rise after a week-long surge in oil prices.

Heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos added about 9.5 per cent each for the week.

Financials posted their best week in more than four months, with the "big four" banks advancing between 6.2 per cent and 10 per cent.

Mr Jennings said banks were still enjoying the afterglow of the budget, with tax cuts announced likely to be beneficial for them.

The central bank's assertion that banks were strong enough to withstand the economic shock from the Covid-19 pandemic further assured investors.

Technology stocks posted a weekly gain of 7.8 per cent, while miners advanced 5.2 per cent.

REUTERS

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