Australian shares eked out small gains on Friday to hold at five-year highs, lifted by big banks ahead of their earnings reports starting next Tuesday.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 13.4 points to 5386.3, near a five-year high of 5402.4 hit earlier in the week. The benchmark ended the week 1.2 per cent higher, its third consecutive week of gains.
While regional markets were sold off heavily as investors took profits, the local market bucked the trend.
CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said he thought weakness in Asia might have led to some profit taking on the local market.
‘‘I think people have put the US debt ceiling crisis behind them and those investors not in the market don’t want to miss out and want to achieve some decent yields against the background of lower rates,’’ he said.
Financials led the market's rise, adding 0.5 per cent, with CBA and ANZ both hitting new all-time highs, as investors cheer generous dividends and record profits.
CBA added another 0.9 per cent to close at $76.28, ANZ also rose 0.9 per cent finishing at $32.66. Westpac gained 0.5 per cent to $34.36, within a whisker of its all-time high and NAB added 1.4 per cent to $36.08.
Macquarie gained 0.5 per cent to $51.20, but that’s still well off its all-time highs of around $90.
In the resources sector, BHP Billiton gained six cents to $37.41, Rio Tinto dropped eight cents to $63.77 and Fortescue Metals Group gave up early gains to shed nine cents to $5.21.
Whitehaven Coal added 3.5 cents to $1.77 after lifting coal sales by 26 per cent in the September quarter.
Rail and stevedore operator Asciano slumped 31 cents, or 5 per cent, to $5.90 after it warned earnings growth would be weaker in the 2013-14 financial year.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter jumped 3.3 per cent to a record closing high of $8.42, after Canada's Saputo raised its takeover offer for the company.
"It still feels like this market wants to squeeze higher and once again traders will be eyeing a close above 5400 and more notably 5426," IG's Chris Weston says, adding: "It’s hard to see where the real value is in this market now, but there is still chance of multiple expansion in the coming weeks and into Christmas. "
BusinessDay, with AAP and Reuters