Energy, materials stocks lead ASX gains

Investors are smiling in early trade on the Australian share market, which is being pushed along by energy, materials and IT stocks.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 57.2 points, or 1.06 per cent, at 5450.6 points after the first 15 minutes of trade on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index was 62.5 points higher, or 1.14 per cent, at 5526.3 points.

The energy sector was the best performer, surging 4.92 per cent.

Oil Search was an early winner with a 8.7 per cent climb in its share price to $3.00.

The materials sector was up 1.94 per cent after Fortescue Metals hiked its annual iron ore shipments forecast.

Fortescue reported a 10 per cent rise in third-quarter shipments and said it had managed to keep a lid on costs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Information technology rose 2.43 per cent.

ANZ was the only one of the big four banks in negative territory – down 2.2 per cent to $16.29 after announcing it will delay paying shareholders an interim dividend after first-half cash profit plunged 62 per cent to $1.32 billion.

The fall in profit was due to higher credit charges and COVID-19 impairments.

Overnight, big tech companies provided the biggest lift to the US S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, and pushed all three major US stock averages closer to their all-time highs reached in February.

Drugmaker Gilead Sciences announced that its drug Remdesivir is showing promise as an effective treatment for COVID-19, which has killed more than 226,000 people across the world.

One Aussie dollar was buying 65.47 US cents at 1015 AEST, up from 65.36 US cents at Wednesday’s close.

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