Aug 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched higher on Friday,
and were on course for a third consecutive weekly rise, as gains
in mining and gold stocks outweighed losses in energy names amid
lower oil prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index had climbed by 0.2% to 6,991.2
by 0032 GMT, rising about 0.7% so far this week.
Global risk appetite soured after the Bank of England warned
that a lengthy recession is yet to come and a U.S. central bank
official said the economy is not in recession, but the risks of
one have risen.
The Reserve Bank of Australia will release its latest
forecasts on Friday and has already foreshadowed a steep rise in
inflation to a top of 7.75% and a slowdown in growth to just
1.75% for next year.
Gold stocks emerged as the top gainers, rising more
than 2.5% to hit their highest in nearly six weeks after bullion
prices hit a one-month peak overnight.
Newcrest Mining, Australia's largest gold miner
climbed 1.8%, while Northern Star Resources added 2%.
Miners climbed more than 1%, and were on track for a
third straight weekly gain, with sector majors BHP Group
, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group
adding between 0.8% and 1.5%.
Energy stocks were the top laggards, declining close
to 2% after oil prices hit their lowest since before Russia's
invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
Sector heavyweights Santos and Woodside Energy
Group fell 1% and 2.6%, respectively.
Technology stocks were largely unchanged, but set
for a fifth straight weekly rise. ASX-listed shares of Block Inc
slid 7.1% and Xero Ltd slipped 1%, while
Computershare rose 0.6% on Friday.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose
0.1% to 11,737.16.
(Reporting by Jaskiran Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by