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Australia: Shares rise on financials, energy; NZ also up


BENGALURU] Financial and energy stocks put Australian shares on track for a second day of gains on Friday, taking cues from a rise on Wall Street and higher oil prices overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 11.577 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,989.7 by 0053 GMT, and looked set to log a weekly gain for a third straight week.

A rally in popular tech stocks such as Facebook buoyed Wall Street, with all three of its main indexes ending higher.

"The Australian markets had a nice lead from offshore markets overnight. The Dow after having couple of sessions down was up, this has spilled in to our markets this morning," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Data earlier in the session showed that owner occupied housing finance in Australia declined less than expected in October from the previous month. It fell 0.6 per cent, while a Reuters poll had shown expectations of a 2.5 per cent drop.

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A gain of between 0.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent by the 'Big Four' banks boosted the finance-heavy index the most.

Westpac Banking on Friday said it has accepted the need for the Royal Commision inquiry saying it believes the inquiry would help restore trust in the sector.

Energy stocks rose in tandem with oil prices as the Aussie energy index climbed as much as 1.4 per cent.

Woodside Petroleum rose 0.4 per cent, while Origin Energy gained as much as 4.2 per cent at one point, hitting its highest in over 2 years.

Insurance Australia Group rose as much as 1.7 per cent, posting its best session in more than two weeks, after it said it had entered agreements to share its premiums with three of its reinsurers to curb earnings volatility.

On the down side, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell between 0.5 per cent and 0.9 per cent. Iron ore on the Dalian exchange had tumbled 7.5 per cent on Thursday amid growing concerns that steel demand in the world's top producer will decline as winter kicks in.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.4 per cent, or 34.84 points, at 8,207.44, on track for its fourth straight weekly gain.

Consumer and healthcare stocks led the rise, with Fletcher Building gained 1.6 per cent and Ryman Healthcare added 1.8 per cent.

New Zealand's manufacturing sales volumes rose 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, according to data earlier in the day.


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