Home >Markets >Stock Markets >Australia shares creep higher despite spike in virus cases

Australian shares closed marginally higher on Friday, helped by gains in mining and material stocks even as concerns over rising coronavirus cases kept many investors on the sidelines.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 6,033.60, recovering some ground after Thursday's 0.7% drop. For the week, it was up 1.5%.

Australia's Victoria state reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases while New South Wales said it was tightening some restrictions as authorities struggle to contain a new outbreak.

Helping investor sentiment, the Australian government on Thursday said it would inject a further A$1.5 billion ($1.05 billion) into a wage subsidy programme as the national unemployment rate hit a 22-year peak in June.

"It's (the market) sitting on a wall of worry right now," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

"We have had such a sugar hit from all of the stimulus, we are taking a seat and wondering if we can keep going or start to fall over?"

The European Union will meet later in the day to discuss a proposed stimulus to kick-start the COVID-hit economy.

Mining stocks climbed 0.8%, led by a 4.4% rise in Alumina Ltd. South32 Ltd advanced 4.2%, while Rio Tinto closed 0.6% higher after touching a near six-month high earlier in the day.

Financial stocks rose 0.1%, with Westpac Banking Corp finishing 0.5% higher and National Australia Bank adding 0.2%.

The gold index rose 0.5%, led by a 4.6% jump in Alkane Resources Ltd, while Evolution Mining Ltd gained 2.4​%

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7% to 11,584.1.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd gained 6.4%, while Property for Industry Ltd added 4.1%.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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