Australian shares ended higher on Friday, helped by small miners and big banks, but marked its worst week in nearly nine months after global risk appetite was spoilt by escalating trade tensions that threatened to spill into currency markets.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.3% higher, at 6,584.4. For the week, it fell 2.7%, the biggest weekly loss since mid-November.
Australia’s biggest trade partner China let the yuan weaken past 7 to the dollar on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he plans to slap additional tariffs on Chinese goods on Sept 1.
On Friday, fibre cement maker James Hardie Industries and wealth manager AMP were the top gainers on the Australian benchmark.
James Hardie rocketed 14.1% after saying it expected better earnings in fiscal 2020, citing an improved outlook for the U.S. housing market. AMP rose on a turnaround plan unveiled on Thursday to “reinvent” the business.
Australian nickel miners rose as concerns over a possible export ban by Indonesia on the metal jacked up prices. Independence Group and Western Areas both tacked on more than 5%.
Lithium miners Orocobre and Pilbara Minerals added 10.3% and 6.5%, respectively.
Oil and gas companies Santos and Oil Search also advanced 1.7% and 0.7%, respectively, while blue-chip lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking added 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively.
Real estate classifieds firm REA Group erased earlier losses to surge 5.6%, as investors corrected for a “knee-jerk” reaction to a 58% drop in annual profit, that was largely impacted by a hefty impairment charge.
James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut, said the results did not include effects of the latest rate cut from the Australian central bank, “the biggest single driver for recovery” for the housing market.