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Australian shares end slightly higher after Morrison win ends political uncertainty; NZ up

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Australian shares closed marginally higher on Friday after Treasurer Scott Morrison won a party leadership vote, putting him on track to become the country's new prime minister and ending a week of political turmoil that hit market sentiment.

Morrison, who will be Australia's sixth prime minister in less than 10 years, emerged victorious from a three-way race with former home affairs minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"I think Scott Morrison as the new prime minister is, by far, the more preferred candidate from the market point of view," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.05 per cent to 6,247.3 at the close of trade, having risen as much as 0.5 per cent earlier in the session. The index fell 1.5 per cent during the week.

The benchmark edged higher on the back of gains in healthcare and consumer staples but losses in commodities and financials firms capped a wider rally.

The Australian healthcare index closed at a record high with heavyweights CSL Ltd and Cochlear rising 3 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

"Any of these companies with strong offshore earnings clearly benefit from the softening Australian dollar. The momentum is all for the downside," said McGlew.

The Australian dollar rallied higher on Friday after the leadership vote, which ended days of political uncertainty, having fallen 1.7 per cent over the previous two sessions.

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