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Australia: Shares snap four weeks of losses; New Zealand slips

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Friday, with financial stocks leading gains, as investors found grounds for optimism among some of President-elect Donald Trump's economic policies.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.8 per cent higher at 5,370.7. The index snapped four weeks of losses to rise 3.7 per cent this week.

Financials gained, in line with the US financial sector overnight, which surged to its highest since the 2008 global financial crisis, as investors turned their focus on Mr Trump's likely priorities which include bank deregulation.

The "Big Four" banks were the top contributors to the main index rising between 2.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose to its highest in nearly three months.

The benchmark financials index was up about 3 per cent, hitting its highest in more than two weeks.

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Australia's metals & mining index rose 0.9 per cent as iron ore prices rose on an optimistic outlook for Chinese steel demand, and copper edged back.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd surged 4.5 per cent to hit its highest in over five years.

BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd were up more than 2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index reversed early gains to fall 0.5 per cent and close at 6,697.78. The index closed 0.2 per cent lower on the week, its sixth consecutive fall.

Industrials and telecom stocks were the biggest drag on the index, with Auckland International Airport Ltd falling over 3 per cent to its lowest in more than 4 months.

Spark New Zealand Ltd fell for a third straight session to close at its lowest since June 9.


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