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Aust share market ends week on a high

The Australian share market finished near a 22-month high as investors reacted positively to economic data from China indicating a rebound in activity.

At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 35.6 points, or 0.72 per cent, higher at 4,971.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 33.6 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 4,989.4.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 39 points higher at 4,933, with 21,084 contracts traded.

It was the All Ords best finish since April 2011.

Market analyst Gavin Wendt said investors had shrugged off a weaker US lead and instead turned to the local region for direction.

"It's a continuation of the positive theme since the start of the year," Mr Wendt said.

"However, there appears to be more optimism from the bigger funds rather than the smaller retail investors."

On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 42.47 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 13,944.05 points, weighed down by disappointing December quarter US productivity data.

China on Friday reported better than expected trade data, fuelling optimism that its economic growth may be rebounding from the recent slowdown.

Among the major banks, Commonwealth Bank gained 13 cents to $64.83, National Australia Bank advanced 39 cents to $29.02, Westpac added 12 cents at $28.08 and ANZ firmed 61 cents at $28.12.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was 30 cents higher at $37.95 and Rio Tinto climbed 92 cents to $69.60.

Gold miner Newcrest's rose five per cent, or $1.17, to $24.52 even though first half profit had dropped by 51 per cent because of weaker production and sales.

Iron ore explorer Sundance Resources dropped four cents, or 12 per cent, to 30 cents after another delay in its drawn out takeover process by China's Hanlong.

AGL Energy shed 19 cents to $15.13, as it suspended an expansion of its coal seam gas operations in southwest Sydney due to community concerns.

National turnover was 1.67 billion shares worth $4.63 billion, with 542 stocks up, 435 down and 435 steady.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1,672.03 per fine ounce, down $US9.02 from $US1,681.05 on Thursday.