Aug 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares registered their
highest close in nearly three weeks on Monday, driven by gains
among heavyweight financials, while a dip in new coronavirus
infections in Victoria and renewed hopes of financial aid in the
United States boosted risk sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 1.76% at 6,110.2 points
at the end of trade.
The subindex for financial stocks soared 2.6% to its
highest in over a week, with the 'Big Four' banks jumping in the
range of between 2.8% and 3.5%.
"The financial sector has underperformed the market a little
bit over the past few weeks, and this might be a catch up play
before Commonwealth Bank's results later this week," said James
Tao, market analyst at CommSec.
Signs that the lockdown measures in Victoria were having an
effect, with daily new infections slowing to a near two-week
low, helped shore up sentiment further.
"If the trend (of lowering cases in Victoria) can remain
this way that stands to benefit the market", Tao added.
The country as a whole though reported a record single day
rise in COVID-19 deaths.
Meanwhile, attempts by the U.S. House Speaker and the U.S.
Treasury Secretary at restarting COVID-19 aid talks on Sunday
revived hopes of further government help in the face of the
second coronavirus wave.
Among other sectors, healthcare stocks were 1.7%
higher, with CSL Ltd and Sonic Healthcare Ltd
gaining 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively.
Mining stocks gained nearly 1%, with BHP Group
and Fortescue Metals Group rising 1.4% and
Fortescue on Friday said it will review plans at an iron ore
mine after an Indigenous group said a planned expansion
threatened sacred sites.
Nearmap was among the top gainers on the benchmark
index after brokerage Citi raised its price target on the
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3%,
helped by gains among financials and consumer stocks.
(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by