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Australian shares clock weekly gains as Wall Street extends rally; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended the day and the week in positive territory on Friday, buoyed by an extended comeback rally on Wall Street, which supported sentiment across Asia-Pacific markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1 per cent higher at 5,654.30. The benchmark advanced 1.9 per cent on Thursday.

US equities climbed on Thursday after an initial selloff, a day after the major indices posted their biggest daily per centage increases in nearly a decade.

Australian shares have gained 3.4 per cent this week, snapping two weeks of losses and posting their biggest weekly increase since November 2016. Markets were closed for much of this week due to Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.

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Leading gains, financial stocks rose 2.3 per cent on Friday and clocked 4.6 per cent in weekly gains, after three straight weeks of losses.

The "Big Four" banks climbed in the range of 2.3 per cent and 3 per cent, with National Australia Bank Ltd and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd gaining 2.7 per cent each.

The industry saw a bumpy year after widespread revelations of misconduct led to a national inquiry, which is due to release its final report by Feb 1. The financial sector index was poised to lose about 15 per cent this year.

Meanwhile, the energy index rose more than one per cent on Friday and was up 4.9 per cent this week, its biggest weekly gain in more than three months.

Oil prices jumped as much as 3 per cent, rebounding from previous session's declines, even as supply glut concerns persist.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd was up 0.9 per cent while peer Santos Ltd advanced 1.7 per cent.

Metals and mining stocks rose marginally, with index heavyweight BHP Group Ltd declining 0.6 per cent and Rio Tinto Ltd gaining 0.5 per cent. The index gained for a fourth straight week.

Australia's fourth biggest firm by market capitalisation, drugmaker CSL Ltd rose 1.2 per cent, driving gains in the healthcare index, which snapped two weeks of losses to rise 4.6 per cent for the week.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was slightly higher, finishing the session at 8,783.49. The benchmark gained more than 1 per cent this week after three weeks of losses.

Auckland International Airport Ltd slumped 2.9 per cent, while a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 0.7 per cent.

REUTERS