Dec 9 Australian shares were higher on Friday as
a rise in financials and materials was offset by decline in
The S&P/ASX 200 index, which added 2.6 percent in
previous the three sessions, was up 0.3 percent, or 15.365
points, at 5,559.20 by 0119 GMT.
Financials stocks continued their strong run, with the "Big
Four" banks contributing the most gains to the broader index.
"(Australian) banks remain the best of the bunch with a
gross yield around 8.5 percent in 2017 there is enough premium
in the yield to counter the bad-debt cycle while the regulatory
and interest rate cycle outlook is improving," Mathan
Somasundaram, a quantitative strategist with Baillieu Holst,
said in a note.
Materials stocks were flat after gaining all week as Chinese
steel and iron ore futures continued to rally following upbeat
The ASX mining index has risen nearly 58 percent so
far this year, in line with surging iron ore prices.
Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained
about half a percent each, while Fortescue Mining Group
, which has nearly quadrupled its value this year, was
trading in narrow ranges.
"We've had a strong run this week. We're up about 2
percent and are headed towards 5,600, the top end of this year's
trading range. However, we're missing a bit of a catalyst
today," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG
Advancing oil prices drove energy shares higher, with oil
major Woodside Petroleum adding 2.1 percent.
At the other end of the spectrum, losses in the consumer
sector were led by China-exposed casino operator Crown Resorts
, which dropped as much as 8 pct.
A report in the South China Morning Post said the Monetary
Authority of Macau is preparing to halve the amount of cash
China UnionPay card holders can withdraw from ATM machines.
Declines in Sirtex Medical rubbed off on the
healthcare sector as the medical device maker fell as much as 52
pct to its lowest since Jan 2014, after it cut its FY17
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down
0.2 percent, or 16.11 points, at 6,898.49.
Losses in telcos and industrials weighed on gains in energy
and financial shares.
Auckland International Airport and Port of
Tauranga lost 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent respectively,
while Spark New Zealand entered its third day of
losses, down 1.6 percent.
Z Energy gained 0.7 percent. Insurer Tower Ltd
was 3.7 percent higher.
(Reporting by Suhail Hassan Bhat in Bengaluru; Additional
Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon