Aug 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares were set for a fifth
consecutive weekly gain, even as the market struggled for
direction on Friday as mining, energy and gold stocks offset
losses in a slew of blue chips including AGL Energy over weak
The S&P/ASX 200 index flitted in and out of positive
territory and was last up 0.04% at 7,115.5, as traders assessed
comments from a string of U.S. central bank officials that the
Federal Reserve needed to keep raising borrowing costs to bring
high inflation under control.
The benchmark index has risen 1.1% so far in the week.
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.33% on Friday and S&P
500 E-minis futures were down 0.16%.
Among top losers in Australia, AGL Energy slipped
3.1% to hit its lowest in more than four months after the
country's top power producer said its annual profit more than
halved, falling short of analysts' estimates.
TPG Telecom dropped 10.4% after its half-year
profit came in below consensus due to higher costs, while
poultry producer Inghams Group fell 9.4% on reporting a
However, the energy sub-index jumped 3.6% to hit a
two-week high, supported by higher crude oil prices. Santos
and Woodside Petroleum led gains in the
sector, rising 3.8% each.
Gold stocks gained more than 2%, helped by a 2.8%
rise in heavyweight Newcrest Mining despite the company
posting a profit drop and announcing a lower dividend.
Moves in Australian miners this week were seen
largely independent of iron ore prices. The sector firmed 1.7%
on Friday despite tumbling iron ore prices, and was on track for
a weekly gain of 4.1%.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell more
than 1%, pulled down by a near 10% slide in Fisher and Paykel
Healthcare on weak outlook.
(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by