The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 1.6% , or by 87.8 points, to 5351.6 points on Friday. ANZ gained 1 per cent for the week to $28.90, Commonwealth Bank put on 1.2 per cent to $77.35, National Australia Bank added 1.9 per cent to $32.44 and Westpac lifted 1.7 per cent to $31.56.  BHP Billiton fell 1.6 per cent for the week to $24.59 as chairman Jac Nasser said the mining giant would consider taking on debt in the short-run to cover its policy of increasing dividend payouts each year.

Rio Tinto lost 0.5 per cent over the week to $53.39. Fellow blue-chip Telstra firmed 2.6 per cent for the week to $5.58. In the mining sector, two of the largest Cooper Basin plays, Drillsearch and Beach Energy, will merge to create a $1 billion-plus listed entity that will be 20 per cent owned by billionaire Kerry Stokes. Drillsearch rocketed 26 per cent on Friday to 83 cents while Beach firmed 3 per cent to 69 cents.  Santos, the target of a rebuffed $7.14 billion takeover approach from private fund Scepter Partners, has lowered its production forecast for the full year and further reined in capital spending as it defers development because of slumping oil prices.  To read the complete report click here

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