(Updates to close)
March 17 Australian shares closed higher on
Friday in their fourth consecutive session of gains, supported
by a rise in financial stocks after two of the 'Big Four' banks
increased their mortgage rates.
The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.2 percent to
5,799.60 points at the close of trade, gaining 0.4 percent for
National Australia Bank raised interest rates on
residential investment loans by 25 basis points to 5.80 percent
on Thursday, while Westpac Banking said on Friday it
would increase its variable home loan rate for owner occupiers
by 3-8 basis points.
Westpac Banking closed 1.1 percent higher, while National
Australia Bank ended up 0.53 percent.
On the other hand, supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd
closed at its lowest in nearly two weeks, while
Wesfarmers Ltd closed 0.2 percent down.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1
percent, or 6.15 points, to finish the session at 7,158.14
The region saw gains in real estate and industrials stocks
with Kiwi Property Group Ltd closing at a one-week
high, while Auckland International Airport Ltd closed
0.9 percent higher.
Consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest drag on the
index with online marketplace operator Trade Me Group Ltd
closing at a two-week low.
The benchmark index shed 0.3 percent this week.
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Randy