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Australian shares end higher as investors buy on the cheap; NZ rises

[BENGALURU] Australian bounced on Friday as investors took the opportunity to buy cheapened stocks amid an improvement in global sentiment, while higher commodity prices bolstered demand for materials, especially miners.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 per cent or 36.60 points to 6,165.30 at the close of trade, having fallen 0.8 per cent on Thursday, as moves toward fresh tariff talks between China and the United States helped to ease trade tensions.

The benchmark posted a weekly gain of 0.4 per cent but was still down 2.4 per cent since the beginning of the month as the trade war fears fray nerves.

"We are seeing bargain hunting now, I think some of the more rational money is coming back into the market and its picking up some of the things like banks, and some of the resources sector as well," said Dale Raynes, associate director at CPS Capital.

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The scandal-afflicted financials led the gains on Friday, with Westpac Banking Corp rising 0.7 per cent, and top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia gaining 0.5 per cent.

Banks and insurers have been under the cosh as the latest revelations of a high profile inquiry into the sector exposes widespread wrongdoing by firms.

In contrast, metals and mining index was in sturdy shape, jumping 1.4 per cent to its highest since Sept 4 thanks to a surge in Dalian iron ore futures.

Global miner BHP firmed 1.6 per cent to a more than one-week high and was the biggest boost to the benchmark, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd rose 1.2 per cent to its highest since Aug 29.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2 per cent or 21.77 points to finish the session at 9,270. It posted a weekly gain of 1.9 per cent.

Utilities and healthcare stocks underpinned gains, with Meridian Energy Ltd jumping 1.7 per cent to a record high, while Ryman Healthcare Ltd strengthened 1.3 per cent.