By Soumyajit Saha
July 2 (Reuters) – Australian shares were higher on Thursday, taking cues from a robust Wall Street session overnight on promising results from a coronavirus vaccine trial, and on encouraging data from top economy United States and largest trading partner China.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.47% to 5,962.4 in early trade.
Risk sentiment received a boost after a COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech BNTX.O was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials, sending all three major U.S. indexes up between 0.3% and 0.9%.
Different sets of data from top two economies United States and China on Wednesday showed a rise in factory activity in both countries in June.
Further gains though were likely capped by a continued rise in coronavirus cases, with authorities on Wednesday saying they would lock down more than 300,000 people in suburbs near Melbourne to check a spike in infections.
Healthcare stocks gained over 1%, with Resmed Inc rising 1.8%.
Technology stocks advanced 2.6%, with Afterpay Ltd gaining 4.8% as brokerage Citi nearly tripled its price target on the company’s stocks and raised its estimates.
The energy subindex rose 0.7% on the back of overnight gains in oil prices following a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories, though prices later retreated.
Miners fell 0.8%, with global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto down 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively, as ironore and steel prices fell overnight mirroring a slowdown in construction activities.
Gold stocks fell 1.03% as the yellow metal’s prices dropped from a near eight-year high amid positive economic data and vaccine hopes.
The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 638 while 240 declined.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% to 11,369.8, helped partly by utility stocks like Contact Energy, which rose 1.2%. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)