Aust shares up 1.53 pct, energy surges

Australia’s share market jumped about two per cent higher early as global markets rallied on promising results for a coronavirus vaccine.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up 96.4 points, or 1.53 per cent, to 6395.2 at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.

The index reached a session high of 6395.2 in the first 20 minutes of trade, then eased.

The All Ordinaries gained 83.7 points, or 1.28 per cent, to 6599.4.

There was a whopping gain of 7.94 per cent for the energy sector, as traders hoped a coronavirus vaccine would later help people to travel more.

Pfizer prompted a rally on global markets after it said its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data.

Other surging sectors on the ASX were industrials, up 5.64 per cent, and financials rose by 4.24 per cent.

Meanwhile, unemployed Australians are being thrown another temporary lifeline, with JobSeeker coronavirus payments to be extended.

The existing $250 fortnightly supplement is due to expire on December 31.

It will then be reduced to $150 per fortnight and extended until March 28, tying the pandemic payment to an expiry date for JobKeeper wage subsidies.

Business confidence has surged to its highest level since mid-2019, while consumer sentiment has risen for 10 straight weeks as optimists again outweigh pessimists.

The National Australia Bank monthly business survey showed confidence jumping nine points in October to five index points.

The rise was led by a large gain in Victoria, driven by a fall in COVID-19 case numbers and, at that time, the looming end of the lockdown in Melbourne.

On the ASX, energy providers were just some of the big winners after the oil price climbed about eight per cent on the vaccine news.

Oil Search gained 14.43 per cent to $3.25, Beach was up 13.2 per cent to $1.41 and Santos rose 11.47 per cent to $5.58.

Travel stocks also soared on the vaccine news.

Corporate Travel Management rose 18.34 per cent to $20.26, Qantas gained 9.61 per cent to $5.13 and Webjet was up 15.18 per cent to $4.93.

Property group Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield had the biggest gains of large capitalisation companies after it said the vaccine could have a significant impact on retail property.

Shares rose 23.17 per cent to $3.53.

In banking, ANZ rose 5.54 per cent to $20.28, the Commonwealth gained 3.1 per cent to $72.49, NAB climbed 6.8 per cent to $21.10 and Westpac was up 4.87 per cent to $18.62.

While the materials sector was lower, the big three miners were not. BHP gained 1.3 per cent to $36.35, Rio Tinto was up 0.13 per cent to $96.22 and Fortescue edged up by 0.22 per cent to $17.65.

The technology sector had heavy losses and was down 3.92 per cent.

Earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 834.57 points, or 2.95 per cent, to 29,157.97 in its biggest one-day percentage gain since June 5. The S&P 500 rose 41.06 points, or 1.17 per cent, to 3,550.5 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 181.45 points, or 1.53 per cent, to 11,713.78.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.77 US cents at 1200 AEDT, down from 72.94 US cents at Monday’s close.

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