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Big miners lift Australian share market

Strong gains in the mining sector have lifted the Australian share market to finish the week higher as a major ratings agency upgraded its outlook on the country's credit standing and trade war worries recede.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 25.1 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,194.6 points on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 28.5 points, or 0.45 per cent, higher at 6,305.4 points.

The Australian dollar had its best week in more than a year as S&P Global Ratings on Friday revised its outlook to stable, from negative, removing the risk of a downgrade to Australia's triple-A credit rating and supporting bond prices.

"That is a really big deal," CommSec market analyst Tom Piotrowski said.

He said the rating was particularly pleasing considering the recent political uncertainty in Canberra which resulted in a change of prime minister.

"They focused on the expectation that revenues are going to continue to improve and they also said the unwinding of the housing market is going to be orderly."

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.89 US cents at 1630 AEST and holding gains for the week of 1.9 per cent, the largest since July last year.

Copper prices ended two days of gains to cool overnight, and iron ore also edged down, but the big Aussie miners gained nonetheless.

BHP shares were up 2.5 per cent to $33.58, while Rio Tinto lifted 1.8 per cent to $79.49 a day after it announced it would return $3.2 billion to shareholders from its sale of Australian coal assets this year, in addition to existing buyback programs.

Shares in Fortescue Metals were up 4.2 per cent to $3.95, and South 32 Limited jumped 1.3 per cent to $3.90 after it successfully appealed a damages decision on its Cerro Matoso nickel mine in Colombia.

The financial sector was up slightly at the close with Westpac recording the strongest gains of the big four banks, up 0.3 per cent to $28.16, while NAB was the only major lender in the red, down 0.3 per cent to $27.66.

In companies news, jewellery chain Michael Hill has hired Specialty Fashion's Daniel Bracken as chief executive after current CEO Phil Taylor quit citing health problems.

Mr Bracken, a former Myer deputy chief executive who oversaw Specialty Fashion's well-received sale of the Katies, Millers, Crossroads, Autograph and Rivers retail brands, will join Michael Hill in November.

Michael Hill shares closed 0.6 per cent down at 88.5 cents, while Specialty Fashion shares had not moved at $1.25.

ON THE ASX:

* The S&P/ASX200 closed up 25.1 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,194.6 points

* The All Ordinaries was 28.5 points, or 0.45 per cent, higher at 6,305.4 points

* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was up 26 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 6,192.0 points at 1630 AEST.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.89 US cents, from 72.57 US cents on Thursday.

* 82.23 Japanese yen, from 81.40

* 61.88 euro cents, from 62.09

* 54.97 British pence, from 55.17

* 108.97 NZ cents, from 109.13

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEST was $US1,208.71 per fine ounce, from $US1,204.60 on Thursday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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