June 26, 2020 / 1:42 AM / 20 days ago

Australian shares gain; set to end week lower as virus fears dent recovery hopes

June 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares rebounded on Friday, led by financial and metal stocks, after falling over 2% in the previous session, but they were on track for a weekly fall as rising coronavirus cases at home and elsewhere dented hopes of a swift economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.06% in early trade. But the benchmark index was on track to fall about 1.2% for the week, its second weekly fall in nine.

The country on Thursday recorded its biggest one-day rise in coronavirus cases in two months, with its second most populous state Victoria reporting 33 positive cases as the global tally crossed 9.51 million.

Overnight, the three major Wall street indexes rose between 1.09% and 1.18%, after U.S. regulators loosened rules to allow banks to make larger investments in riskier vehicles.

Financial stocks gained 1.82%, with all of the ‘big four’ banks rising over 1%.

The mining subindex was up 1.25%, with global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto gaining 1.8% and 0.5%, respectively.

Energy stocks rose 1.7% led by Whitehaven Coal Ltd , up 3.55%.

Brent crude futures rose 0.66% and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.62% on optimism about recovering fuel demand as traffic seemed to pick up worldwide.

Qantas Airways Ltd said it had raised about $940 million through an institutional placement as part of a sweeping cost-savings plan to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

The airliner’s shares were down as much as 6.9% in early trade.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 752, while 211 declined.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index on Friday rose 0.67%, helped by gains among utility stocks like Contact Energy which rose over 3%, but was on track for its second weekly fall in five.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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