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Australia: Shares mark best week in a month as data drives rebound hopes

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Australian shares closed higher on Friday, boosted by healthcare stocks, and notched their biggest weekly gain in nearly a month as strong US jobs data and a record surge in domestic retail sales raised hopes for a recovery in the economic environment.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Friday, boosted by healthcare stocks, and notched their biggest weekly gain in nearly a month as strong US jobs data and a record surge in domestic retail sales raised hopes for a recovery in the economic environment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose up to 1.1 per cent before paring early gains to close 0.4 per cent higher at 6,057.90, its fourth straight session of gains and the strongest close since June 11. It added 2.6 per cent in its best weekly gain since June 5.

Following a surge in US payrolls for June, data showed Australia's retail sales jumped a record 16.9 per cent in May, recovering from an historic plunge in April and suggesting consumer spending will not be nearly as weak in the June quarter as initially feared.

James Tao, market analyst at CommSec said the data at home was a good sign that there are "green shoots" for the economy.

"We've had a pretty good week so far and the US markets being closed tonight certainly takes away a bit of incentives and so we did see a bit of profit-taking in between," said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

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Aiding investor sentiment, Australia reported a drop in new coronavirus cases on Friday, with a surge in the second most populated state Victoria appearing to have eased.

Healthcare stocks jumped 2.3 per cent to an over five-week high, propelled by index heavyweight CSL rising 2.7 per cent and Cochlear climbing 5.9 per cent after the hearing aid maker got a US Food and Drug Administration approval for four new products.

Elsewhere, Westpac Banking fell 0.4 per cent after the lender joined a growing list of big companies which admitted to underpaying staff.

Rising for a second straight day, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.5 per cent higher at 11,558.7.

The benchmark added 3.8 per cent for the week, its best weekly performance since mid-April.

REUTERS

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