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Banks sustain virtually unchanged ASX200

Aditya Soni
The ASX has closed in negative territory but has gained overall for the week

The Australian share market has barely moved as banks offset losses in other sectors after ANZ doubled its share buyback program.

The S&P/ASX200 index was down 2.70 points to 6,229.40 at 1201 AEST on Friday.

The benchmark had added about one per cent on Thursday and was on track for a weekly gain of 2.3 per cent, which would be the biggest since November 2016.

ANZ said on Friday it would increase its buyback programme by a further $1.5 billion to $3 billion.

The announcement drove ANZ's shares three per cent higher to a more than three-month high, the benchmark's biggest boost.

The positive sentiment on ANZ spread in the financials sector, which jumped one per cent to its highest since March 23.

Mathan Somasundaram, Blue Ocean Equities market portfolio strategist, said the market is now looking for NAB to have a buyback program.

"If ANZ is doing it, the next one with the bigger balance sheet is NAB, and then you probably will see some from the others, though probably not as big."

Shares of NAB firmed 1.7 per cent to a more than five-week high, while Commonwealth Bank strengthened 1.2 per cent to its highest since May 8.

Financial stocks are on track to add more than five per cent this week, benefiting from a weaker local currency which increased foreign interest and boosted export-focused firms.

However, Mr Somasundaram warned that a correction could be on the horizon as foreign buying in the market rooted in the weaker Aussie begins to fade.

The Aussie dollar was worth 73.84 US cents at midday, from 73.49 on Thursday.

Materials accounted for most of the losses on Friday, with BHP sliding 0.5 per cent and Rio Tinto Ltd declining 0.7 per cent.

Energy stocks slipped 0.8 per cent, with their fall exacerbated by overnight weakness in oil prices.

Oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum dropped 0.6 per cent and Santos Ltd shed 1.5 per cent.

ON THE ASX AT 1200 AEST

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 7.2 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 6,239.3 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 4.4 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 6,337.3 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 6.0 points, or 0.10 per cent, at 6,187 points