Australian shares close near 3-week high; BHP up nearly 3%



(Updates to close)

Oct 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Friday to their highest close in nearly three weeks, supported by tech stocks and a near 3% gain by BHP Group.

Macquarie Group MQG.AX jumped nearly 4% after Morgan Stanley raised its price target by 37%, given the financial conglomerate's ability to take advantage of the green wave.

The benchmark ASX 200 index .AXJO closed 0.7% higher at 7,362. The index gained around half a percent over the week despite falling in the first three sessions.

BHP BHP.AX and Fortescue FMG.AX rose 2.8% and 2%, respectively, as iron ore prices rose following sharp losses this week.

Rio Tinto RIO.AX fell 0.9% as the miner lowered its iron ore shipment forecast for 2021, kicking off the production reporting window. BHP will report its quarterly report on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Star Entertainment Group SGR.AX climbed 5.4%, although it saw its worst week since March last year after losing a quarter of its value in the first two days over governance concerns.

Rival Crown Resorts CWN.AX is awaiting news on an inquiry report that may declare it unfit for a gambling licence at its biggest-earning casino in Melbourne. Its shares rose 1.5%.

The country's "Big Four" banks also ended the week higher, rising between 0.2% and 1.1%.

Three of the four will report annual results at the end of the month, while the largest Commonwealth Bank of Australia CBA.AX will provide its quarterly update in November.

In other news, Insurance Australia Group IAG.AX slid 3.2% after the corporate regulator sued a unit of the company for failing to pass on discounts to 600,000 customers.

In New Zealand, shares .NZ50 ended 0.3% lower at 13,012.19.

a2 Milk ATM.NZ dipped 1.9%, giving up some of the gains it accumulated from Wednesday when a smaller peer highlighted improving conditions in China.
Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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