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Energy, mining stocks lift Australia shares as markets cheer easing of virus curbs

09/15/2021 | 09:18pm

Sept 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday, driven by gains in energy and mining sectors on stronger commodity prices, while investors took comfort in the government's decision to ease restrictions for vaccinated citizens in New South Wales.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.4% at 7449.10 points, as of 0032 GMT.

Even as the state of Victoria recorded its biggest one-day rise in COVID-19 cases in a year, restrictions eased in New South Wales for vaccinated citizens, with ending of a night curfew in Sydney.

Among sectors, the energy sub-index gained the most, rising 2% on the back of strong oil prices after a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.

Whitehaven Coal Ltd was the top gainer, up 4.3%, after the environment ministry approved its Vickery coal mine extension project in New South Wales.

Mining stocks added 1% on strong copper prices, with index gaint BHP Group rising 1.2%.

Banks rose 0.3%, with the "Big Four" banks all trading in positive territory.

Gold stocks, however, lost 0.5% as bullion prices were down, with gold miners Northern Star Resources and Newcrest Mining shedding around 0.8% each.

Myer Holdings was one of the top gainers in the All Ordinaries Index, adding nearly 7% after the retail company posted an annual profit of A$50.7 million ($37.2 million), driven by strong online sales.

Telstra eyed its best session in five weeks after the Australian telcom said it aimed to extend 5G coverage to 95% of the country by the end of 2025.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was steady at 13,105.22 points, with financial services company Heartland Group Holdings Ltd being the best performer with a 1.3% gain.

The country's economy grew at a much faster pace than expected in the second quarter, officials said on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.2%, while the S&P E-minis futures were up 0.1%.

($1 = 1.3630 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

© Reuters 2021
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