July 15, 2020 / 6:59 AM / a month ago

Australia shares end higher tracking Wall Street gains, vaccine optimism

* U.S-based Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine show positive results

* Afterpay rebounds after three sessions of losses

* NZ higher (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

July 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday, mirroring overnight gains on Wall Street, with material stocks providing a major lift to the domestic benchmark, while promising developments in a potential COVID-19 vaccine added to the cheer.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.88% to 6,052.9 points, in its best day since June 30, despite tightened restrictions on movement to contain a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 that has pushed the national case tally over 10,000.

The benchmark closed 0.6% lower on Tuesday.

The Australian market took cue from strong overnight gains on the major Wall Street indices, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended more than 2% higher and the S&P 500 gained over a percent.

U.S. stocks rallied after Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard hinted at an additional monetary stimulus, analysts at OCBC Bank said in a note.

Meanwhile, U.S. researchers on Tuesday reported that Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine for COVID-19 provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study.

“The sooner a vaccine or treatment is available, the easier it is for the economic recovery to take place,” said CommSec market analyst James Tao.

ASX 300 metals and mining index rose 2.7% led by Champion Iron Ltd, up 10.29%, followed by Aurelia Metals Ltd, gaining 7.55​%

Basic material stocks chased overnight gains in their U.S. counterparts, which were also a major boost to the U.S. indices in the last session.

Technology stocks rose 2.77% led by WiseTech Global Ltd, up 4.58%, followed by EML Payments Ltd, gaining 4.5%.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Ltd jumped 5% before closing 2% higher, recouping after three sessions of losses for the first time in a month.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1% to 11,610.52.

Top gainers on the are Vista Group International Ltd , up 4.17%, followed by Oceania Healthcare Ltd, gaining 3.09%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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