Shares were marginally higher after the first two hours’ trading on the ASX after being down by more than one per cent early.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 5.7 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5933.5 points at 1200 AEST on Monday.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 3.4 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6061.7.

Investors have shrugged off a poor start, which had the big four banks down by as much as 2.5 per cent, following the introduction of a curfew in Victoria to reduce movement and the spread of the coronavirus.

Continued worries in the US about coronavirus infection rates also likely played a part, and US government talk of eliminating the national security risks posed by Chinese software companies.

The number of job advertisements in Australia during July was published during early trade. The figures picked up by 16.7 per cent on the previous month, despite the virus crisis.

However, Pepperstone chief market strategist Chris Weston said the pickup in trade was not unique to the ASX with Chinese markets and Nasdaq futures trading higher.

He said ASX investors were opting for health stocks, which had lifted the market.

Health was the leading sector, up by 2.83 per cent.

CSL was a beneficiary and was 3.13 per cent higher to $278.56.

Materials was the next best sector, up by 1.12 per cent.

The big miners were a part of that rise. BHP gained 1.4 per cent to $37.26, Rio Tinto rose 1.22 per cent to $103.24 and Fortescue was up 1.78 per cent to $17.72.

Financials fared the worst and the big banks remained lower. ANZ was down 3.51 per cent to $17.33, the Commonwealth Bank slipped 1.78 per cent to $69.93, NAB lost 3.11 per cent to $17.11 and Westpac fell 2.78 per cent to $16.61. Online recruitment operator Seek fell 1.98 per cent to $21.24 after it said it would not pay a full-year dividend. Seek chief executive Andrew Bassat said the decision would maximise returns for long-term shareholders. The market may still face a hurdle when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces additional restrictions on trade as part of the tougher, six-week regime. The Australian dollar was buying 71.37 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 72.22 US cents at Friday’s close.