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Jan 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed showing a marginal upside bias that was enough to register a fourth consecutive day of gains on Friday, as advances in the telecom and financial sectors slightly outweighed declines in basic material and consumer stocks.
Investors were watching for U.S. jobs data due later in the global day as it may provide clues on the pace of possible U.S. interest rate hikes this year and on the sustainability of Wall Street’s post election rally.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.04 percent, or 2.25 points, at 5,755.6 at the close of trade, its highest since May 29, 2015. The index gained 1.6 percent over the week.
Basic material stocks were the biggest drag on the main index with BHP Billiton falling 0.5 percent and Rio Tinto shedding 0.6 percent.
Fortescue Metals however, gained 0.3 percent on the back of rising iron ore prices.
The metals and mining index was down 0.4 percent on Friday, though over the week it gained 2.11 percent.
Gold stocks retreated as gold prices slipped, losing gains made on bullion’s earlier climb to one month highs.
Newcrest Mining closed up 0.3 percent, having stood 2.3 percent earlier in the day.
Oceanagold also finished 4.3 percent up, trimming an earlier 6.2 percent gain.
Financial stocks were flat with the financial index up 0.13 percent. The ‘Big Four’ banks gaining between 0.1 and 0.3 percent. The index gained 2.3 percent this week.
Consumer stocks lost with retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmers losing around 0.3 percent each. Ardent Leisure ended 0.5 percent lower after the company recorded a 63 percent drop in revenue following a fatal accident at its Dreamworld theme park.
Telecom stocks led the gainers on the main index with Telstra Corp advancing 0.7 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.07 percent, or 4.94 points, at 6,970.66, though the index gained 1.3 percent on the week.
Losses in Z Energy and Ryman Healthcare of more than 2 percent and 1 percent respectively led the declines on the index while a 0.6 percent climb in Spark New Zealand Ltd and Westpac Banking Corp led the gains.
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore