Australian shares pared early advances on Friday even as they notched their biggest weekly gain in over two months, as losses in the basic materials and industrials sectors weighed. The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.2 percent, or 10.81 points, at 5,774. The benchmark, which fell 1.2 percent on Thursday, added 1.7 percent on the week, its best weekly performance week since March-end. Analysts attributed some of this week’s gain to buying by self-managed super funds (SMSF) and net purchases by foreigners. Tony Farnham, an economist with Patersons Securities, said individuals have been buying shares ahead of July 1, when superannuation regulations change.
Among the ‘Big Four’ banks, National Australia Bank and ANZ were the biggest gainers on the benchmark by weight, up 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. “We’ve got the bank levy and other uncertainties, but at the moment I think there’s a degree of confidence that profit numbers pre-bank levy were quite solid and dividend yields were still solid to retail investors,” Farnham said. The financial index gained 2.5 percent this week.
Basic materials shares, however, remained pressured by continuing weakness in commodity prices, compounded by a poor outlook. Rio Tinto was 0.3 percent lower and rival BHP declined marginally. Industrials were hurt by Sydney Airport Holdings shares, which shed 2.3 percent and were the biggest drag on the main board.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.5 percent, or 36.40 points, higher at 7,552.75. It added 1.6 percent on the week. Consumer stocks were the biggest gainers driven up by a2 Milk shares, which added 8.2 percent after the dairy products maker raised its full-year group revenue forecast earlier in the day.