Australian shares rose 0.52 percent on Friday, gaining for the first month since February, as investors bought into higher yielding financial sector stocks and risk appetites improved on more upbeat US economic outlook. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 29.677 points to 5,699.200 at the close of trade, its third straight day of gains. The benchmark gained 4.4 percent throughout July. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.49 percent or 29.110 points to finish the session at 5,920.960. It gained 3.4 percent on the month.