July 13, 2020 / 6:35 AM / a month ago

Australia, NZ end firmer on optimism around COVID-19 treatment, U.S. earnings

* Miners gain on higher iron ore, copper prices

* Healthcare index weighed down by CSL

* U.S. banks’ trading revenues will outperform in Q2 - analyst (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

July 13 (Reuters) - Australian and New Zealand shares finished higher on Monday, as risk appetite was buoyant on encouraging results from a COVID-19 treatment trial and on hopes that the U.S. earnings season would see most companies beat forecasts.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.98% to 5,977.5 points. ​ The benchmark, which fell 0.61% on Friday, is off 16.9% from its lifetime high on Feb. 20.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4% to 11,434.79.

A late-stage study showed that U.S. biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir significantly reduced COVID-19 mortality rate.

The promising data “sparked a wave of peak-virus optimism in stock markets,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA, said in a note.

“Earnings season for Q2 in the U.S. kicks off this week, with the largest banks reporting across the week. I expect that trading revenues will outperform once again as market volatility continues,” Halley wrote.

Top gainer, the ASX 300 metals and mining index rose 1.77% led by Galaxy Resources Ltd, up 6.06%, followed by IGO Ltd, gaining 4.54​%.

Chinese iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 1.5%, on expectation of seasonal tight supplies from big miners in Australia.

Meanwhile, copper prices increased due to supply worries from top producer Chile as workers called for a potential strike at a mine.

Financial stocks rose 1.63% led by Platinum Asset Management, up 6.76%, and Virgin Money UK PLC, gaining 5.44%.

Healthcare stocks shed 0.7%, weighed down by industry behemoth CSL Ltd.

Brokerage Jefferies says CSL’s product revenues in the medium-term is under threat as U.S. source plasma collection centres in the second quarter fell due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In New Zealand, the top percentage gainer on the benchmark was Port of Tauranga Ltd, up 4.04%, followed by Chorus Ltd, gaining 2.83% (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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