ASX 200 closes higher but Australia shares suffer worst weekly loss in 11

Australian shares ended higher on Friday, led by gains in banks and energy stocks, tracking an overnight Wall Street rebound, but the benchmark index posted its biggest weekly drop in 11 weeks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.5 per cent higher at 7,014.2, after three days of heavy losses. For the week, it ended 0.9 per cent lower, its biggest weekly drop since Feb.26.

After inflation fears led to volatility all week in markets, global equities took cues from the Wall Street to march higher, with investors buying back growth stocks.

Australia’s heavyweight financial subindex ended nearly 1 per cent higher, with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia hitting a record high.

“Last night’s U.S. rebound was led by financials. ..that seems to be reflected in the ASX,” said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

“Even if we do have inflationary issues, financials are perceived to be the ones that will still be okay.”

Lender Westpac, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank ended up between 0.9 per cent and 1 per cent.

Energy stocks led gains on the benchmark, finishing 1.7 per cent higher after shedding nearly 2 per cent over the week.

Oil prices were subdued, however, analysts at IG sounded optimism over Colonial Pipeline reopening since it could ease the gasoline shortage situation.

The country’s largest independent coal miner Whitehaven Coal led gains on the subindex as well as on the benchmark, gaining up to 10.4 per cent, notching its biggest intraday percentage jump in more than five months.

But miners lost 1.6 per cent as iron ore prices dived.

Global titan BHP Group lost 1.6 per cent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals fell nearly 2 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.5 per cent lower at 12,367.86, falling for an eighth straight session and posting its worst weekly performance since Feb. 12.

Movie software maker Vista Group and Synlait Milk were the top losers.

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