Financial and consumer stocks were helping the Australian share market higher, which has followed US futures trading.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 36.3 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 6678.9 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.

The All Ordinaries was up 33.1 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 6919.5.

The financial and consumer sectors were more than one per cent higher, as were information technology and utilities.

Energy had the biggest loss, 0.57 per cent.

Emergency approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine in the US may have cheered investors since markets finished mostly lower on Friday.

The first vaccine shipments have moved across the United States as part of historic efforts to inoculate more than 100 million people by the end of March.

The development may temporarily take attention from US politicians’ inability to strike agreement on economic stimulus.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her cabinet has agreed to form a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia by the end of March.

Quarantine-free travel will also require Australian government approval and COVID case numbers staying at rock bottom.

Meanwhile, Australia’s three oil refineries are being thrown an economic lifeline.

Tough travel and business restrictions have triggered a plunge in demand for oil and petroleum products.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has offered the refineries $83.5 million of taxpayer cash.

The production payment will offer one cent per litre for jet fuel, petrol and diesel.

The Morrison government is also extending support for domestic aviation to help more Australians prepare family reunions during the holiday period.

The government is extending its support program for eight weeks until March 28, part of more than $1.2 billion of assistance during the pandemic.

It is extending a 50 per cent waiver of domestic air services charges for public transport and aero-medical flights from January 1 to March 31 that will help operators manage costs as flights increase.

On the ASX, a fresh class action has been levelled against casino giant Crown Resorts, accusing the company of misleading investors over possible anti-money laundering breaches.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn lodged a new class action against Crown alleging misleading or deceptive conduct from December 11 2014 to October 19 this year.

Over that time it alleges the casino misrepresented it had effective systems for ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering obligations.

Crown shares were up 1.23 per cent to $9.84.

Afterpay reached a record price of $106.20, then eased to be higher by 5.02 per cent to $106.09.

The shares have increased in value by more than 262 per cent since January 1.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it will not oppose wealth manager IOOF buying MLC Wealth Management from NAB.

The ACCC says IOOF will still face significant competition.

NAB shares were up 1.0 per cent to $23.56.

Among the big banks, ANZ was better by 1.26 per cent to $23.23, the Commonwealth was up 1.62 per cent to $83.73 and Westpac rose 0.8 per cent to $20.11.

In mining, BHP was up 0.05 per cent to $42.84, Fortescue was down 0.67 per cent to $22.79 and Rio Tinto slipped 0.63 per cent to $115.26.

The Aussie dollar was buying 75.28 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 75.57 US cents at Friday’s close.