April 26, 2019 / 6:56 AM / 9 months ago

Australia shares end touch higher as gold stocks cap loses; NZ down

* Australia benchmark gains for a fourth straight week

* Gold stocks surge, energy stocks slip

* Banks start reporting earnings next week (Updates to close)

April 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended marginally higher on Friday after gold stocks snapped their losing streak to help the benchmark to its best weekly performance since early February, while energy stocks slipped on weak oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.1 percent, or 3.50 points, at 6,385.60, after gaining 1 percent on Wednesday, before the holiday to mark ANZAC Day. The index ended higher for a fourth straight week, rising 2 percent.

Gold stocks were the biggest gainers, surging 2.2 percent to end a four-day losing streak, after bullion climbed on Friday, as signs of weak global growth rekindled investor interest in the safe-haven metal.

Saracen Mineral Holdings and Newcrest Mining jumped 5.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, financials, the benchmark’s biggest constituents, erased early losses to end higher for an eighth straight session. The index saw its best week since late February, gaining 2.6 percent.

Wealth manager IOOF Holdings Ltd fell 2.6 percent after the company said three units received notices from the pension fund regulator saying they are not in full compliance of their licence conditions.

Westpac Banking Corp gained 0.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.3 percent, ahead of earnings from major Australian banks next week.

“Going into the earnings releases of banks there is definitely a lot of uncertainty which is something that investors are cautious of,” said Tumul Sinha, an equities research analyst at ASR Wealth Advisers.

Elsewhere, energy stocks ended 1.5 percent lower as oil prices dipped on hopes that producer club OPEC will soon raise output to make up for a decline in exports from Iran following a tightening of sanctions on Tehran by the United States.

Whitehaven Coal and WorleyParsons were the biggest losers in the sector, falling 3.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.

Australia’s mining index ended at its lowest in one month after the world’s No. 4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group dived 5.4 percent on weakness in iron ore prices. The index lost 1.4 percent this week, to end lower for a third straight week.

Fortescue’s bigger rivals Rio Tinto and BHP Ltd fell 0.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.8 percent lower at 9,994.57, after hitting a record high on Wednesday. The index gained 0.4 percent this week.

Ryman Healthcare and Pushpay Holdings were the top percentage losers on the index. (Reporting by Mensholong Lepcha; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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