August 23, 2019 / 2:52 AM / a month ago

Australia shares set to post first weekly gain in four

* Real estate stocks gain

* Gold stocks pull down metals index

* NZ stocks fall about 1%

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

Aug 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to post their first weekly gain in four on Friday, as strength in heavyweight financial stocks and significant gains in real estate firms pushed the benchmark higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to 6,522.70 by 0214 GMT, adding to Thursday’s 0.3% gain. The benchmark is poised to gain about 1.8% for the week.

Markets have failed to accelerate in recent times due to fears of an impending global recession and the festering Sino-U.S. trade spat.

However, those worries largely took a back seat in Australia this week, thanks to a recovery in investor sentiment over stimulus measures in China and strong corporate earnings at home.

Most property stocks gained with the sector index tacking on more than 2%.

Goodman Group advanced about 6% to be among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark after the firm reported a more than a 48% jump in annual profit.

Underpinning positive sentiment in the real estate sector, Dexus, Charter Hall Group and Mirvac Group gained as much as between 1.5% and 2.3%.

“The softening of interest rates in Australia has been the focus in the results commentary of most of the property groups,” said James McGlew, executive director of stock broking at Argonaut.

McGlew added that the residential market is now receiving a lot of attention from the government, which wants to stimulate new growth in the segment.

Heavyweight Financials also gained in volatile early trade, rising as much as 0.4%, with the top three lenders of the “Big Four” gaining between 0.3% and 0.5%.

The overall gains, however, were capped by mining sector declines, with gold stocks off for a sixth straight session.

Gold explorer Gold Road Resources slumped as much as 22.5%, its most in more than nine years, after its unit sold stake at a discounted price.

Gold Road was also the top percentage loser in the Metals and Mining index, down 0.4%.

Major gold firms Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining both dropped 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively.

Miner South32 Ltd extended losses, slipping more than 5%. The company on Thursday reported a 25% drop in annual underlying profit.

The energy sector, which has largely propelled the benchmark’s weekly gains, inched lower on the day.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell about 1% to 10,638.87, with dairy firm a2 Milk Co leading the losses with an about 5% decline. (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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