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Australian shares rise on financials and materials; NZ up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ticked up on Friday, following a strong lead from global markets, while materials stocks extended gains on higher commodities prices.

Wall Street stocks rose on Thursday in the wake of data pointing to steady growth in the US economy, with financial stocks leading gains. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended 0.6 per cent higher.

Locally, the S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.2 per cent or 9.3 points to 6,069.7 at the close of trade. The benchmark declined 0.3 per cent on Thursday and gained 1.2 per cent on a weekly basis, registering its fifth consecutive week of gains.

Mirroring their US counterparts, financials led the gains on the benchmark Australian index. Index heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp rose 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Miners extended gains for a 10th consecutive session on Friday, supported by higher iron ore prices. The Australian metals and mining index finished up 0.6 per cent, its highest close since March 2013.

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Global miner BHP rose 0.9 per cent to a more than 2-1/2 year high, while its rival Rio Tinto Ltd climbed 0.8 per cent to its highest close since Nov 9.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent or 31.99 points to finish the session at 8,396.43.

The gain expanded the index's weekly rise to 0.4 per cent, its six consecutive weekly gain and its longest weekly streak since July.

Consumer and healthcare stocks accounted for most of the gains, with heavyweight a2 Milk Company Ltd climbing 1.5 per cent, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd rose one per cent to a record close.


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