XMM 2.31% 4,508.2 s&p/asx 300 metals and mining

News: XMM Australia shares creep higher despite spike in virus cases

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    • Australian benchmark index gains 1.5% on weekly basis
    • Rio Tinto closes slightly up after hitting near 6-month peak
    • Westpac, NAB help financials finish higher

    (Updates to close)

    Australian shares closed marginally higher on Friday, helped by gains in mining and material stocks even as concerns over rising coronavirus cases kept many investors on the sidelines.

    The S&P/ASX 200 index (xjo) rose 0.4% to 6,033.60, recovering some ground after Thursday's 0.7% drop. For the week, it was up 1.5%.

    Australia's Victoria state reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases while New South Wales said it was tightening some restrictions as authorities struggle to contain a new outbreak.

    Helping investor sentiment, the Australian government on Thursday said it would inject a further A$1.5 billion ($1.05 billion) into a wage subsidy programme as the national unemployment rate hit a 22-year peak in June.

    "It's (the market) sitting on a wall of worry right now," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

    "We have had such a sugar hit from all of the stimulus, we are taking a seat and wondering if we can keep going or start to fall over?"

    The European Union will meet later in the day to discuss a proposed stimulus to kick-start the COVID-hit economy.

    Mining stocks .AXMM climbed 0.8%, led by a 4.4% rise in Alumina Ltd (AWC) . South32 Ltd (S32) advanced 4.2%, while Rio Tinto (RIO) closed 0.6% higher after touching a near six-month high earlier in the day.

    Financial stocks .AXFJ rose 0.1%, with Westpac Banking Corp (WBC) finishing 0.5% higher and National Australia Bank (NAB) adding 0.2%.

    The gold index .AXGD rose 0.5%, led by a 4.6% jump in Alkane Resources Ltd (ALK) , while Evolution Mining Ltd (EVN) gained 2.4​%

    In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (nz50) rose 0.7% to 11,584.1.

    Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd (RBD) gained 6.4%, while Property for Industry Ltd (PFI) added 4.1%. ($1 = 1.4314 Australian dollars)

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