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Australian shares gain, but in red for week despite modest relief for financials; NZ down


[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged higher on Friday, supported by gains from the scandal-hit financial sector which managed to advance for a second session, but not enough to stop the benchmark from a weekly loss.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.2 per cent higher at 6,185.5. The benchmark is off 0.4 per cent for the week, despite gaining over the last two sessions, including a 0.5 per cent rise on Thursday.

Financial stocks rose 0.4 per cent, though for the week the index lost 1.4 per cent, reflecting relentless pressure after a months-long inquiry revealed widespread misconduct in the sector.

The country's number two lender Westpac Banking Corp rose 0.5 per cent, while National Australia Bank inched 0.2 per cent lower.

Elsewhere, Wesfarmers received court approval for a shareholder vote on the spin-off of its supermarket chain, Coles. The conglomerates shares, which were on a trading halt prior to the announcement, closed marginally higher.

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Material stocks, which have lacked some direction this week due to markets being closed in resource-hungry China, inched 0.1 percent higher.

Rare-earth minerals miner Lynas Corp closed up 10 per cent after the chief of an environmental review into the company's Malaysian plant was quoted as sounding more conciliatory than previously.

Concerns that the newly-elected government could close down Lynas' plant sent shares skidding 27 per cent last month.

In the energy space, Beach Energy closed down 3.7 per cent, its lowest in over a week as the firm cut its fiscal year 2019 production and core earnings guidance.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.5 per cent or 42.31 points to finish at 9,214.87.

The benchmark lost 1.5 per cent for the week.

Synlait Milk fell 5.7 per cent, with index heavyweights Air New Zealand and a2 Milk Company down 1.7 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.


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