Shares have improved through the first two hours trading on the ASX and were close to 1.0 per cent higher.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 47.3 points, or 0.80 per cent, at 5981.7 points at 1200 AEST on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index was 49.5 points, or 0.82 per cent higher, at 6090.5.

Foreign trade data for May showed a 2.0 per cent increase in Australia’s trade surplus to $8.03 billion, a result that did not hurt investor enthusiasm.

Property has outperformed all sectors, up 2.09 per cent, followed by information technology (1.99 per cent) and telecommunications (1.04 per cent).

The financial sector was next best, higher by 0.94 per cent.

Shares in online furniture shop Temple & Webster soared by 11.41 per cent to $7.03 following a $40 million institutional placement.

The company sold seven million shares at $5.70 each. There is no offer for retail investors.

Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu had its shares rise by 11.16 per cent to $1.19 after a strong recovery in sales since reopening stores in May amid the coronavirus crisis.

Kathmandu said group sales for the 10 months ended May 31 were 15.1 per cent below the comparable period last year but since reopening stores, retail and online sales had exceeded expectations.

In the financial sector, the big four banks reversed losses earlier in the session. ANZ was higher by 1.24 per cent to $19.11, Commonwealth Bank rose 0.5 per cent to $70.23, NAB edged up by 0.97 per cent to $18.74 and Westpac gained 1.53 per cent to $18.56.

Macquarie Bank was steady at $120.74.

There was a different story in mining. BHP, Rio, Fortescue were down by less than 1.0 per cent.

Electronic payments provider Afterpay achieved a record share price of $66.66 before easing to be 5.77 per cent higher to $65.83.

Meanwhile, Qantas retail shareholders are being offered a 2.5 per cent discount in a share purchase plan that will raise $500 million to help the airline navigate the virus crisis.

The share purchase plan complements a $1.4 billion placement to institutional investors at $3.65 per share, completed last week.

Qantas shares were higher by 2.33 per cent to $3.96.

In the US, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices closed higher after drug maker Pfizer said a vaccine being developed with German firm BioNTech showed promise and was found to be tolerated in early-stage human trials.

The report came as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase of 43,644 new cases of the coronavirus. The high rate of infection is hampering economic recovery.

However, investors were encouraged by upbeat economic data as coronavirus-induced lockdowns have eased. A report on Wednesday showed a slump in global manufacturing had ebbed in June, with US figures hitting their highest level in more than a year.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.07 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 68.98 US cents at the close of trade on Wednesday.