ASX climbs, investors look past lockdown

Australia's share market regained its ascendancy as miners and banks rose, and several companies received boosts after reporting first-half earnings.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 62.2 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 6868.9 on Monday.

The All Ordinaries closed better by 68.4 points, or 0.97 per cent, at 7149.7.

Most sectors were higher. Materials was top, higher by 1.56 per cent.

There were gains of more than one per cent for consumer discretionaries, telecommunications and energy.

Financials rose by 0.82 per cent.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda noted the ASX gains recouped the 0.63 per cent loss on Friday which followed news of Victoria's five-day coronavirus lockdown.

The state reported one local infection on Monday, taking active cases from the outbreak at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport to 21.

Mr Rodda was not reading too much into the ASX gain.

"It might be too wishful to suggest today's price action is indicative of a market expecting the state's lockdown to definitely come to an end on Wednesday," he said.

He said investors were buying stocks as the economic outlook improves.

Across the Tasman, people in Auckland began a three-day lockdown, following three infections among one family.

Investors took their lead from the US, where Wall Street markets closed higher on Friday.

President Joe Biden rallied support for his $US1.9 ($A2.4) trillion coronavirus relief plan to help millions of unemployed workers, and help schools reopen.

On the ASX, earnings reporting continued and some companies reaped rewards.

Mapping provider Nearmap rose 18.98 per cent to $2.57 after it said increasing sales in North America helped first-half annual contracts rise 21 per cent.

The group responded to a short-seller's criticism from last week by bringing forward its earnings to Monday.

Nearmap posted a first-half loss of $9.3 million, which was 50 per cent better than its previous first-half loss.

Bendigo Bank executives are confident an improving housing market and jobless rate will help booming lending and deposits after a 1.9 per cent rise in first-half cash earnings.

The bank reported cash earnings after tax of $219.7 million, higher than the previous first half.

The interim dividend was a fully franked 23.5 cents per share, down from the previous fully franked interim payout of 31 cents per share.

Shares rose 11.28 per cent to $10.56.

Seven West Media and Google struck a deal to license news stories, on the same day the broadcaster declared first-half earnings rose 24 per cent.

Seven West Media said it signed a letter of understanding for a deal to license its news coverage for Google's fledgling news showcase product.

Shares were higher by 6.38 per cent to 50 cents.

Crown Resorts chief executive Ken Barton has stepped down after a damning report on the company last week.

Chair Helen Coonan will assume the role of executive chairman.

Shares gained 0.81 per cent to $9.97.

In mining, BHP climbed 2.3 per cent to $45.75, Fortescue gained 2.52 per cent to $24.43 and Rio Tinto rose 1.83 per cent to $119.50.

In banking, ANZ gained 1.61 per cent to $25.22, the Commonwealth lost 0.64 per cent to $86.31, NAB increased by 1.44 per cent to $25.29 and Westpac climbed 1.17 per cent to $22.40.

On Tuesday, there will be no lead from US markets, which will be closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

Elsewhere, NAB will give a first-quarter trading update.

BHP will give first-half earnings, as will Adairs, Ansell and Breville.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.87 US cents at 1718 AEDT, higher from 77.48 US cents at Friday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 62.2 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 6868.9 on Monday.

* The All Ordinaries closed better by 68.4 points, or 0.97 per cent, at 7149.7.

* At 1718 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6807 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.87 US cents, from 77.48 cents on Friday

* 81.82 Japanese yen, from 81.22 yen

* 64.14 Euro cents, from 63.89 cents

* 56.03 British pence, from 56.15 pence

* 107.50 NZ cents, from 107.32 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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