Australia shares gain 2% on Wall Street rally, upbeat data

* Australia shares notch best session in two weeks

* Melbourne imposes further virus-led curbs

* Financials recover, see best day in two weeks

By Arpit Nayak

Aug 4 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose 2% on Tuesday to notch their best intraday session in two weeks after a tech-led overnight rally on Wall Street and strong manufacturing data from leading economies bolstered risk appetite.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished at an all-time high overnight as U.S. tech giant Microsoft Corp’s pursuit of Chinese-owned TikTok’s U.S. operations lifted sentiment.

Investors also placed bets on further U.S. stimulus as Congressional Democrats and White House negotiators said they had made progress in discussions over a coronavirus relief bill.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 2% at 6,047 by 0056 GMT, marking its best session since July 21.

Back home, with the Reserve Bank of Australia expected to hold rates steady at a meeting later in the day, all eyes will be on its economic forecasts as the country witnesses a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne on Monday announced fresh coronavirus-related restrictions on retail, manufacturing and administrative businesses, igniting fears of more job losses ahead.

Energy stocks gained on stronger oil prices as a string of positive manufacturing data from the United States, Europe and China indicated a factory recovery may be on the cards despite rising COVID-19 cases.

Woodside Petroleum gained 2.3%, while Santos rose 4.3%.

Solid gains for the “Big Four” Australian Banks lifted heavyweight financials up as much as 2.8%, their best session since July 21.

Tech stocks took a cue from their U.S. counterparts to climb up to 3.9%, with buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay adding 5.9%.

Miners and healthcare stocks also rode a wave of optimism to book solid gains.

Only gold stocks traded in the red as the bullion weakened on positive U.S. economic data.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.9% to 11,776.41.

Local shares of lenders Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 2.7% and 2.9%, respectively.

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