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Finance, energy sectors lift Australia shares; NZ at record high
December 8, 2017 / 6:19 AM / in 5 days

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

(Updates to close)

Dec 8 (Reuters) - 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 percent, 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 percent.

A rally in popular tech stocks such as Facebook buoyed Wall Street, with all three main indexes 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 percent, while a Reuters poll had shown expectations of a 2.5 percent drop.

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

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 percent 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 percent, while Origin Energy ended about 1.3 percent higher.

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

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

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

New Zealand’s manufacturing sales volumes rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter, according to data earlier in the day. (Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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