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Australian shares rise as materials rally; NZ at record

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares gained on Friday, following a strong finish on Wall Street, with materials stocks leading the charge on the back of higher copper prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 per cent or 25.10 points to 6,193.60 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.3 per cent on Thursday but gained 0.5 per cent for the week.

"We followed from the US with the Dow closing at a record, although the markets have been driven by big tech stocks like Apple and Microsoft," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Trade-sensitive industrial stocks led the Dow Jones industrial average to a record closing high on Thursday, with all three major US indexes closing up as trade worries subsided.

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Locally, materials were the most dominant gainers, with the metals and mining index climbing 1.7 per cent to its highest since August 14, underpinned by a jump in copper prices.

BHP, the world's largest miner, climbed 2.5 per cent to its highest in more three weeks and was the biggest contributor to index gains. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd strengthened 1.8 per cent to a near two-month high.

Consumer staples also added to index gains as heavyweight supermarket operators Woolworths Group Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd rose 0.9 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.2 per cent or 15.10 points to finish the session at a record high of 9,375.97, up 1.1 per cent on the week.

Industrials dominated the gains, with airport operator Auckland International Airport Ltd rising 2.5 per cent to its highest in more than 18 months.

Health care stocks advanced, led by retirement-home operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd's 1.1 per cent rise.

REUTERS