Australia Stocks Rise for Sixth-Straight Session

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares eked out a sixth straight session of gains Friday, for the strongest weekly advance in a month.

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Losses in energy and materials stocks were largely offset by strength in industrial, healthcare and information technology companies.

"The past week saw 'risk-on' following the outcome of the first round of the French election and in anticipation of President Trump's tax plan," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney.

Corporate earnings season in the U.S. also has lifted investor sentiment in recent days, although strong results from technology stocks overnight had a limited impact on Australian shares Friday given limited size of the sector in the local market, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Reclaiming early losses, the S&P/ASX 200 ended with a rise of 2.6 points at 5924.1--a fresh two-week high that pushes the index nearer the 6000 mark that was last breached at the closing bell in December 2007.

For the week, the index advanced 1.2% thanks in large part to a push higher by the major banks ahead of the release of earnings reports from next week. In a research report Friday, Macquarie said that while there were challenges ahead for the banks they likely benefited over the last half-year from increases to their home-loan rates, solid trading income and a benign credit environment.

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The big banks were mixed on Friday, yet rose by between 2.1% and 3% over the week. For the day, Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 0.3% and Westpac Banking slipped 0.2% but Australia & New Zealand Banking picked up 0.3% and National Australia Bank added 0.4%.

The big miners were also mixed for the session, with BHP Billiton and South32 losing 0.6% and 1.1%, respectively, while Rio Tinto rose 1.1% and Fortescue Metals Group climbed 1.9%.

For the day, 2.65 billion shares were traded with a value of 8.03 billion Australian dollars (US$5.99 billion), Commonwealth Securities said.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 28, 2017 03:46 ET (07:46 GMT)