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Australia: Shares rise as financials cap losses in miners

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares gained modestly on Friday as financials kept the benchmark afloat, offsetting losses in miners following a record rally in the previous session on the back of rising iron ore prices and a lowered forecast from Brazilian miner Vale.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 per cent to 6,626.0 by 2345 GMT, and was on track for its fifth consecutive weekly gain, likely adding 0.4 per cent.

Financials were the biggest boosts to the index, jumping 0.7 per cent, with all "Big Four" banks trading in the black.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.8 per cent, while conglomerate Macquarie Group advanced 2.2 per cent, extending gains from the previous session.

However, financials were set to snap a four-week winning streak, losing about 0.5 per cent.

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Top drags on the index, miners fell up to 0.7 per cent, losing momentum after three straight gain sessions on the back of a rally in iron ore prices and a downgraded forecast by Brazil's Vale SA.

BHP Group slipped 0.5 per cent after a nearly 5 per cent jump in the previous session, while Rio Tinto fell up to 0.8 per cent after closing at a 12-year high. Fortescue Metals Group dropped from its record level, losing as much as 0.7 per cent.

The healthcare sector hit its lowest in a month, with ASX-listed Resmed Inc and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare losing up to 1.6 per cent and 2.3 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, a media report said Pfizer, with which Australia has a Covid-19 vaccine supply agreement, had decided to slash the 2020 production target for its Covid-19 vaccine owing to supply chain challenges.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was trading little changed, after erasing gains of up to 0.5 per cent earlier in the session.

Dairy exporter Fonterra inched higher after it lifted the bottom end of its farmgate milk price for the 2020/21 season on strong demand for its product in China, and across Asia.

REUTERS

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