January 5, 2018 / 5:50 AM / a year ago

Australia shares finish higher; NZ hits another record

(Updates to close)

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Friday, hitting a fresh decade-peak and completing its first weekly session of gains in the new year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 percent, or 45.2 points to 6,122.3 at the close of trade. The benchmark closed slightly up in the previous session.

Financials and material stocks outperformed other sectors on the index.

The ‘Big Four’ banks gained between 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia closing at its highest since Nov. 13.

The mining and materials index jumped 1.2 percent to its highest close in nearly five years, with mining heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd adding 0.8 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose slightly by 0.1 percent, or 12.05 points, after retreating earlier in the day, finishing the session at a record high of 8,455.55.

Utilities and material stocks led the gains, with Meridian Energy closing up 1.2 percent at its highest in over three weeks and Fletcher Building Ltd climbing 1.6 percent to an 11-week closing high.

The index has gained for eight consecutive weekly sessions.

Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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