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Australia shares track key commodities higher; NZ gains


[BENGALURU] Australian shares ticked up on Friday as energy and materials stocks firmed on higher oil and iron ore prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent or 31.3 points to 6,121.4. The benchmark added 0.9 per cent on Thursday and ended the week 1.2 per cent higher.

Energy stocks gained on Friday, with the energy index ending at its highest in three weeks.

Oil rose for a third day on Friday after a survey showed strong compliance with output cuts by Opec and others including Russia, offsetting concerns about surging US production.

Energy major Santos gained 4.3 per cent, the highest in more than two weeks.

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Materials stocks headed higher as the most-traded May iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange in key market China climbed 1.3 per cent Global miner BHP Billiton rose 0.5 per cent, while rival Rio Tinto climbed 0.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, shares of James Hardie Industries, rose 6.8 per cent to a record closing high and were among the benchmark's top percentage gainers.

The world's No 1 maker of fibre cement building panels, posted third-quarter adjusted net operating profit on Friday, which was up by close to a third.

Financials rose as well, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia gaining about one per cent.

Conversely, real estate stocks fell, capping the gains on the index.

"The ongoing sell-off in global bond markets is affecting their (real estate and industrials stocks) performance," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

"Property stocks are sensitive to interest rate changes, the continuing sell-off and increase in long-term interest rates is really weighing on the real estate and utilities sector as well."

US Treasuries market started February on a sour note with the 10-year yield hitting a near four-year peak on Thursday.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand shares ticked up, helped by a rise in materials and industrials. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent or 31.42 points to 8,415.29, adding 1.3 per cent on a weekly basis. The main index ended higher for a third straight week.

Fletcher Building, the country's biggest construction company, firmed 2.1 per cent to end at its highest since October 2017.


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