Australian shares post biggest weekly gain in six

(Updates to close)

By Soumyajit Saha

Aug 14 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose on Friday, recording their biggest weekly gain in six, as the country’s central bank chief called for more fiscal stimulus to revive an economy facing its deepest recession in about a century.

Gold and tech stocks drove the S&P/ASX 200 index 0.6% higher to 6,126.2 at the close of trade on Friday. The index gained 2% this week, its best performance since early July.

The Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe on Friday asked the government for more fiscal action to help generate jobs.

Lowe said that further adjustments to monetary policy was unlikely to help at the moment, having slashed the central bank’s cash rate to a record low in mid-March, but that the bank was open to it in the near future.

“The key takeaway here would be that the central bank is open to adjustments and proactive about steps towards the economy’s recovery,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Australia.

Among sectors, gold stocks rose 1.5% on the back of higher bullion prices, with Bellevue Gold and Evolution Mining advancing 5% and 6.5%, respectively.

A subindex of tech stocks surged over 4%, following a strong overnight lead from Apple Inc, which approached $2 trillion in market value.

National Australia Bank Ltd, meanwhile, ended over 1% higher even as it reported a lower quarterly cash profit and higher loan-loss provisions.

Going ahead, investors will keep an eye on the review of the Phase 1 trade deal between United States and China on Saturday, and earnings reports from index heavyweights such as BHP Group and Westpac Banking Corp next week.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4% lower at 11,452.1, hurt by losses in industrial and healthcare stocks.

The index fell 1.7% for the week, marking its worst week in nine. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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