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%
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