Australia shares log best week in six as BHP hits record high

Australian shares ended up on Friday to log their best week in six, helped by gains in the healthcare sector and as mining giant BHP Group hit a record high, with investors looking past the lockdowns in the country’s two most populous cities.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.17% to 7,348.1 points, but was held back by major banks and technology firms.

The Australian state of Victoria was ordered into a five-day lockdown on Thursday following a spike in COVID-19 infections, joining Sydney as they battle an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The healthcare sector, that makes a bulk of its earnings in U.S. dollars, was the top gainer on the benchmark index, closing 0.7% higher as the greenback advanced overnight.

The country’s biggest healthcare stock, CSL Ltd rose as much as 0.8% and Australian shares of U.S.-based ResMed Inc hit a record high.

Shares in the world’s largest-listed miner BHP Group also scaled a peak as iron ore futures ticked higher and as brokerages expect the miner to gain from increased iron ore shipments and higher prices.

Major mining stocks closed 0.04% higher as iron ore prices rose.

While miner Fortescue Metals advanced as much as 0.9%, the world’s top iron ore producer, Rio Tinto, skidded as much as 1.5% following its quarterly production report.

Australian gold miners closed 1.2% lower, even as the precious metal was headed for a fourth straight weekly gain.

The country’s biggest listed gold miner, Newcrest Mining , tumbled as much as 0.9%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 12673.2.

New Zealand’s consumer price index beat expectations in the second quarter, soaring the most in about a decade, leading to more bets that the central bank may tighten policy as early as August.

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