Vaccine hope a shot in the arm to ASX as oil, travel stocks gain ground

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Vaccine hope a shot in the arm to ASX as oil, travel stocks gain ground

After a disastrous tech meltdown, the Australian sharemarket resumed trading, gaining ground on fresh COVID-19 vaccine trial results.

The S&P/ASX200 gained 0.2 per cent to 6498 while the All Ordinaries Index lifted 0.1 per cent to 6698.

Financial stocks and the energy sectors were the best performers while IT, utilities and health stocks lost ground.

CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said morning trade got a shot in the arm after US pharmaceutical company Moderna released data overnight showing its COVID-19 vaccine trial was 94.5 per cent effective.

“This was very well received,” Mr Daghlian said.

The news came after Pfizer last week reported its vaccine was 90 per cent effective in trials.

“You can store this (Moderna) vaccine between 2-8C for about 30 days; this compares to Pfizer which has to have its vaccine stored at -70C, which is a much greater challenge,” Mr Daghlian said.

ANZ jumped 2.79 per cent to $21.72, Commonwealth Bank rose 1.21 per cent to $75.39, National Australia Bank added 1.16 per cent to $21.84 and Westpac put on 2.26 per cent to $19.02.

The oil and gas sector benefited from a stronger oil price, with Beach Energy rocketing 6.4 per cent to $1.66, Woodside Petroleum rising 3.41 per cent to $21.55, Santos firming 3.41 per cent to $6.06, Origin appreciating 2.52 per cent to $4.88 and Oil Search leaping 4.26 per cent to $3.92.

“One reason why oil prices have been on the way up recently is if there is a vaccine, it could certainly be a game changer, which could help the world and economies largely return to some sense of normality … that could lift demand for things like fuel,” Mr Daghlian said.

Travel stocks also benefited, with Helloworld Travel advancing 9.66 per cent to $2.61, Flight Centre up 1.87 per cent to $16.38, Webjet lifting 1.18 per cent to $5.15 and Qantas gaining 1.54 per cent to $5.27.

Rio Tinto was up 1 per cent to $98.80 and BHP added 1.43 per cent to $37.01.

The biggest company on the ASX, biotech giant CSL, which plans to locally produce AstraZeneca and University of Queensland-developed vaccines, retreated 1.17 per cent to $311.37.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 73.20 US cents, 55.34 British pence and 61.70 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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