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Finance, energy sectors lift Australia shares; NZ at record high

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose for a second day on Friday, taking cues from Wall Street's gains and stronger oil prices, and the market managed to have its third straight winning week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished up 0.3 per cent, or 16.68 points, at 5,994.40, helped by banks and oil and gas shares.

For the week, the index eked out an increase of 0.1 per cent.

A rally in popular tech stocks such as Facebook buoyed Wall Street, with all three main indices ending higher.

"The Australian markets had a nice lead from offshore markets overnight. The Dow, after having couple of sessions down was up, this has spilled into our markets this morning," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Also, data early in the session showed that owner-occupied housing finance in Australia declined less than expected in October from the previous month. It fell 0.6 per cent, while a Reuters poll had shown expectations of a 2.5 per cent drop.

The big Australian banks were the biggest boosts to the main board, gaining between 0.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent.

Westpac Banking said it has accepted the need for the Royal Commision inquiry, adding that it believes the inquiry would help restore trust in the sector.

Insurance Australia Group finished 0.3 per cent up after saying it had entered agreements to share its premiums with three of its reinsurers to curb earnings volatility.

Energy stocks rose as oil prices stabilised following overnight gains.

Sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum rose 0.3 per cent, while Origin Energy ended about 1.3 per cent higher.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent to close at a record high of 8,235.09.

The benchmark gained for a fourth straight week, adding 0.6 per cent.

Consumer and healthcare stocks led the rise, with Fletcher Building and Spark New Zealand, 2.1 per cent and 1.4 per cent higher respectively, emerging as the biggest advancers on the index.

New Zealand's manufacturing sales volumes rose 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, according to data earlier in the day.