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Australian shares had pared back some early gains by noon, but financial and energy shares continued to be buoyant.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 45.4 points, or 0.77 per cent, at 5964.6 points at 1200 AEST on Monday.

The All Ordinaries index was 38.5 points, or 0.64 per cent higher, at 6074.8.

The spritely start followed a strong lead from Wall Street, which ended higher on Friday after confirmation that Gilead Science’s drug remdesivir could reduce the risk of death in severely sick coronavirus patients.

However, the early ASX rise eased after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced 177 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the state.

Melbourne last week began six weeks of tighter restrictions due to rising numbers of infections.

On the market, property and utilities have been the best performing sectors, higher by 1.99 and 1.94 per cent respectively.

Financials were up 1.51 per cent and enjoyed gains similar to those their US counterparts had on Friday.

ANZ rose 1.97 per cent to $18.66, the Commonwealth Bank sprung by 1.9 per cent to $71.97, NAB climbed 1.88 per cent to $18.19 and Westpac leapt 1.7 per cent to $17.96.

Energy stocks were also doing well, after oil prices climbed more than two per cent as the International Energy Agency (IEA) bumped up its 2020 demand forecast.

Woodside climbed 1.58 per cent to $21.47 and Origin was up 2.09 per cent to $5.85.

Oil Search lost 3.0 per cent at $2.91 after it flagged a non-cash impairment of up to $576 million due to poor economic conditions.

Elsewhere, Star Entertainment Group shares rose 1.85 per cent to $2.75 after it said the Queensland government has decided not to pursue plans for a second Gold Coast casino licence.

Shares in Estia Health were placed in a trading halt after the aged care provider said it expects a non-cash hit of up to $148 million on account of uncertainty from the virus.

Buy now, pay later provider Sezzle hit a record price of $9.15 then eased to $8.38, still up by 20.58 per cent, after it resumed trading following a $79.1 million institutional placement.

Big miners had decent gains. BHP was higher by 1.49 per cent to $36.73, Rio was up 1.4 per cent to $99.36 and Fortescue gained 1.48 per cent to $15.07.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.63 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 69.30 US cents at the close of trade on Friday.