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Healthcare stocks drive Australian market higher; NZ down

[BENGALURU] Australian stocks climbed on Friday, underpinned by sharp gains in healthcare plays as solid results from medical device maker Resmed reflected signs of stability in the key US market.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.7 per cent, or 45.6 points, to 6,739.20, adding 1.4 per cent for the week.

Local shares of San Diego, US-based Resmed Inc led gains with an 11 per cent jump to a record close, after the company's quarterly results beat expectations.

Resmed's results showed that the US markets were still ticking on quite nicely and that helped shore up the rest of the healthcare sector, said Dale Raynes, associate director at CPS Capital.

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Export-reliant healthcare stocks rose 1.8 per cent to all-time highs, with sector heavyweight CSL Ltd and hearing devices maker Cochlear Ltd adding 1.6 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, gold prices advanced to a two-week high, driving gains in bullion stocks.

Newcrest Mining Ltd moved up about 1.3 per cent, while Resolute Mining Ltd gained 9.6 per cent after the company said repair works at one of its mines would not affect gold output.

Broader mining stocks climbed, with Rio Tinto Ltd gaining 0.5 per cent and Fortescue Metals Group rising 0.8 per cent. The index added 2.8 per cent for the week, its biggest since late August.

Technology stocks rose about 0.7 per cent, tracking gains in Wall Street peers. Software provider Xero Ltd added 2 per cent and Computershare Ltd rose 1.3 per cent.

Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd dropped 13.2 per cent and was the worst performer on the ASX 200 after the company forecast flat earnings for the first half of fiscal 2020.

Smaller rival Bingo Industries Ltd fell 2.1 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 per cent, or 42.88 points, to 10,788.64. It shed 2.5 per cent for the week, dragged by major power retailers.

Meridian Energy Ltd fell 2.8 per cent and recorded its worst week ever with an 8.9 per cent drop. 

REUTERS