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Australia shares rise on Trump's tax plans, see best week in 2 mths; NZ falls

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended higher for a fourth straight session on Friday and saw their best week in two months, as US President Donald Trump's remarks on tax encouraged stock buying.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1 per cent, or 55.985 points, to 5,720.6 at the close of trade. The index gained 1.76 per cent on the week, its biggest gain in nine weeks.

Asia Pacific stocks were more broadly supported by stronger than expected Chinese trade data, which showed January exports rose 7.9 per cent from a year earlier, while imports jumped 16.7 per cent.

Mr Trump said he would make a major tax announcement in a few weeks to lower burden on businesses but provided few details about the plan. "Remarks on tax were perfectly timed for the Australian stock market. Bargain hunting had lifted the ASX 200 up off support over the past three days," said Ric Spooner, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets.

"The prospect of a near-term announcement on stimulatory US tax reform has added urgency to buying momentum this morning." All major sectors, except real estate, traded in positive territory, with financials contributing the most.

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The "Big Four" banks rose between 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent.

The benchmark mining index gained 1 per cent, with BHP Billiton adding 1.8 per cent, even though workers at the Escondida copper mine in Chile walked off the job on Thursday in a strike that threatens to disrupt the international supply.

"We've known about the threat of the strike for some weeks now. So it's been priced in and it's only in one division," said Ben LeBrun, a market analyst with Optionsxpress.

Rio Tinto gained 1.1 per cent, while Fortescue Metals Group added 1.9 per cent.

However, losses in gold stocks resisted some gains on the index. Gold prices fell on a firmer US dollar after Mr Trump's major tax announcement and as economic data boosted expectations of a US rate hike.

Energy shares rose on the back of stable oil prices.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 17.2 points, to finish the session at 7,104.43.

The index gained 0.14 per cent on the week.

Industrial and telecom stocks led the losses, with Auckland International Airport and Chorus Ltd falling 1.7 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively.


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