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Banks lift Australian shares; NZ posts biggest weekly loss of 2017


[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Friday, with financials accounting for about half of the gains after banks hiked mortgage rates for speculative buyers as part of a campaign by regulators to cool a hot housing market.

Australia and New Zealand Banking raised its variable interest rates on investor loans by 25 basis points while Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it was raising rates on interest-only and investment home loans by between 24 and 26 bps, effective May 8.

The out-of-cycle hikes come at a time when the central bank held rates steady for an eighth straight month in March, citing the "build-up of risks" in home prices and household debt.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 per cent, or 45.55 points to 5,753.50 points at the close of trade. The benchmark slipped 0.8 per cent this week after two straight weekly gains.

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The "big four" banks closed 0.5 per cent to 1.9 per cent firmer, lifting the financials index 1.2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.2 per cent, or 11.28 points, to finish the session at 7,073.83. The index fell 1.2 per cent this week, recording its biggest weekly decline this year.

Telecom company Chorus Ltd was the single biggest drag, sliding 2.4 per cent after smaller rival TeamTalk announced plans to sell a 70 per cent stake in its rural internet services provider Farmside to Vodafone New Zealand.