Australia shares jump 1.5% as Georgia elections reinforce hopes of U.S. stimulus

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Australia shares jump 1.5% as Georgia elections reinforce hopes of U.S. stimulus

* U.S. Democrats win both Senate seats in Georgia elections

* Australia pulls forward cabinet meeting amid virus fight

* Energy stocks benefit from robust oil prices

Jan 7 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose in early trade on Thursday, tracking strong performances on the Dow and the S&P 500, as investors bet on hopes that a Democratic sweep in Georgia would lead to further stimulus in the world’s largest economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose as much as 1.5% to 6,707.6, notching its best intraday session since Nov. 11, 2020. The benchmark closed 1.1% lower on Wednesday.

Overnight, Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate as they won both seats in runoff elections in Georgia state, boosting the prospects for President-elect Joe Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.

Back home, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the national cabinet will meet a month earlier than scheduled as Australian authorities seek to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 that emerged in Britain.

Australian miners jumped 3.1%, with heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto surging 4.5% and 3.8%, respectively.

Energy stocks rose 2.5%, benefiting from robust oil prices after production cuts by Saudi Arabia and a fall in U.S. crude inventories.

Gas explorers Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd advanced 3.3% and 4%, respectively.

Financials were also trading higher, with the so-called ‘Big Four’ banks gaining as much as 2.6%.

Gold stocks fell 1% as prices of safe-haven bullion suffered against a stronger dollar as U.S. Treasury yields surged.

The country’s top independent gold producer Newcrest Mining lost 1%.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 877, while 534 declined.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.3% to 13,510.9, buoyed by financial and utility stocks.

The country’s main bourse operator NZX Ltd rose 2% after posting strong trading figures for the month of December.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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