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Australia shares up, financials at 16-month high; NZ slips


[BENGALURU] Australian shares extended gains to a fourth straight session on Friday led by financials and energy stocks which were propped up by steady oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.31 per cent, or 16.97 points, to 5,560.6. The index gained 2.13 per cent on the week.

Financials stocks jumped almost 1 per cent to their highest since Aug 7, 2015, and have gained for five weeks in a row.

The "Big Four" banks lifted the main index, with all except Westpac Banking Corp up more than 1 per cent. All four recorded multi-month highs in the session.

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The energy index rose 1.1 per cent in the session but ended 0.4 per cent lower on the week, snapping four consecutive weeks of gains.

Oil prices were steady on Friday, holding onto the previous session's gains on optimism that non-Opec producers might agree to cut output.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Origin Energy Ltd gained 2.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Metals and mining stocks reversed early gains to close 0.3 per cent lower after China iron ore and steel futures ran in to profit taking after a six-day rally.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.33 per cent lower at 6,893.3, dragged down by telecom and industrials. The index fell 0.17 per cent on the week, its first weekly loss in four.

Communications service provider Spark New Zealand Ltd was the worst performer on the index falling 2.8 per cent to a two-week low, while Auckland International Airport Ltd dipped 1.8 per cent to its lowest since Dec 1.