October 6, 2017 / 1:01 AM / a year ago

Material and financial stocks buoy Australia shares; NZ higher

Oct 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares rallied on Friday, boosted by financial and material stocks and are on track to end the week on a positive note, tracking a strong handover from Wall Street where the S&P 500 hit fresh highs.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 37.034 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,690 by 0043 GMT.

The S&P 500 posted its sixth straight record high close on Thursday, its longest run since 1997, as investors cheered increased prospects for a tax overhaul with Congress moving closer to agreement on a budget resolution.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar continued its decline on Friday, falling 0.1 percent to 0.77 per dollar, following Thursday’s move lower after dismal August retails sales data.

“As the Aussie dollar falls, it is a positive for the companies that have foreign denominated earnings, and for the country as a whole a higher Aussie reduces competitiveness from an export perspective,” said Danial Moradi, an equity strategist with Lonsec.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and healthcare stock CSL Ltd are among the index heavyweights that report in U.S. dollars.

CSL was up as much as 1.4 percent, while BHP and Rio Tinto added 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, boosted further by higher London copper and a recovery in oil.

Oil prices recovering to gain 2 percent also supported energy stocks with Woodside Petroleum gaining 1.1 percent and Caltex Australia rising as much as 2.6 percent.

Financial stocks rose with the ‘Big 4’ banks gaining between 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent.

Utility stocks were the only decliners on the benchmark with AGL Energy and Origin Energy dropping over 0.6 percent each.

For the session to come, investors will be looking out for U.S. monthly jobs report to be after market close on Friday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 13.79 points, or 0.17 percent, to 7,988.49, with gains in utility stocks being offset by losses in consumer stocks.

Meridian Energy rose as much as 2.5 percent, posting its best day in six months, while a2 Milk fell 2.1 percent as investors took profit after the stock it all-time high in its previous session. Meanwhile, Fonterra declined as much as 3.04 percent, its biggest one-day loss in more than 1 year.

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Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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