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Investors have made a bright start to the first Australian share market session of 2021, buoyed by the distribution of coronavirus vaccines in the US and Europe as well as US economic stimulus.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 55.6 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 6642.7 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 56.9 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 6907.5.

All sectors except energy were higher.

There were gains of more than one per cent for financials, consumer discretionaries and staples, and utilities and property.

Energy lost 0.22 per cent.

The widespread gains follow US Congress late last month passing a $US892 billion relief package to help the flagging economy.

The package includes $US600 for many individual Americans to spend.

US markets closed higher in the last session of 2020.

Meanwhile the US and countries in Europe are trying to distribute coronavirus vaccines as they battle record levels of infections.

Newly-reported US infections hit a new daily record on Saturday, at 299,087. The death toll surpassed 350,000.

Meanwhile the UK has approved another vaccine, the Oxford/AstraZeneca product, as the nation faces similar trouble.

In Australia, the economic damage from the pandemic may soon increase as cuts to the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy payments to employers begin from today.

People on the top rate of JobKeeper will have their payments cut by $200 a fortnight, while workers on the lower part-time rate will face a cut of $100.

There were few locally acquired cases of coronavirus among states and territories. NSW and Queensland recorded none, while Victoria recorded three.

On the ASX, one of the biggest jumps came from Chalice Mining, which gained 8.2 per cent to $4.22.

The West Australian government has approved the company’s application to look for copper, nickel and platinum in the Julimar State Forest, northeast of Perth.

Chalice said this would be the first time the forest had been explored for these commodities.

Among the major miners, BHP was higher by 0.21 per cent to $42.52, Fortescue gained 3.28 per cent to $24.20 and Rio Tinto climbed 0.32 per cent to $114.20.

Gold miners were doing well. Evolution was higher by 4.2 per cent to $5.20, while Newcrest and Northern Star gained more than two per cent.

In banking, the big four banks as well as Bendigo had gains of more than one per cent.

The Aussie dollar was buying 76.87 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 76.95 US cents at the close of trade on the previous session on Thursday.