Australia shares mark 5th weekly gain amid rapid recovery hopes


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* ASX 200 records best week in seven

* Markets on edge amid U.S.-China tensions over HK

* Bendigo and Adelaide Bank among biggest decliners

By Shashwat Awasthi

May 29 (Reuters) – Australian shares eased 1.6% on Friday, though gained for the fifth straight week as hopes of a faster-than-expected economic recovery Down Under from coronavirus-induced disruptions outweighed worries of a deepened Sino-U.S. rift.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed at 5,755.7 and endured its worst day in two weeks, as markets nervously awaited a response from the United States after China pushed ahead with a new national security law on Hong Kong.

Profit-taking also pulled stocks lower, according to OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley, as dealers cashed in on solid gains booked earlier in the week.

That was still a minor blip for the index in an otherwise fruitful week during which it advanced 4.7%, its best performance since the week ended April 10, and hit a two-and-a-half-month high.

Australian equities were given a shot in the arm on Thursday by the central bank’s estimate that the economic downturn from the pandemic will likely be less severe than initially feared, with restrictions being lifted.

Financial stocks have been the biggest beneficiaries of the recovery rhetoric, with a sub-index enjoying its best week on record after gaining almost 11.1%.

The Big Four lenders surged this week to their highest in more than two months, but eased between 2.1%-5.7% on Friday.

“While there are incrementally growing concerns about U.S.-China tensions, these worries are being offset for the most part by the comfort of global monetary and fiscal support,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank dropped 6.1% and was among the biggest losers in the Aussie benchmark after brokerages slashed their earnings estimates on the mid-sized lender.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 rebounded from a drop in the previous session to rise 0.2% to 10,882.41. The index gained for the second straight month. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)


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