• SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was having a broad-based rally after its biggest percentage loss since September on Friday.

    The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 98.9 points, or 1.48 per cent, to 6772.2 at 1200 AEDT.

    The ASX200 lost 2.35 per cent on Friday.

    The All Ordinaries on Monday was higher by 88.2 points, or 1.27 per cent, at 7028.8.

    The best sectors were property and information technology, which had gains of more than three per cent.

    There were gains of more than two per cent in health and telecommunications.

    The only sector lower was materials, by 0.36 per cent. Fortescue Metals was ex-dividend and down 5.68 per cent to $22.74.

    While US markets closed lower except for the Nasdaq on Friday, US President Joe Biden’s $US1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill has since been approved by the House of Representatives.

    Progress for the stimulus plan has helped economic optimism.

    The Senate must next vote on the bill.

    Meanwhile in Australia, the medical regulator will begin batch testing the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week after a shipment of 30,000 landed on Sunday.

    The aim is to add the vaccine to the rollout from next week.

    The Pfizer vaccine began being distributed last week.

    Australian house prices climbed 2.1 per cent in February, the most since August 2003, due to low interest rates and government incentives.

    Housing analysts CoreLogic said housing values were rising across every capital city, state and territory, a synchronised growth phase not seen in Australia for more than a decade.

    On the ASX, Crown Resorts has had another director resign in the wake of a report which claimed the company was unfit to run a new Sydney casino unless substantial changes were made.

    John Poynton, who was also chairman of Crown Perth, has resigned.

    Mr Poynton recently severed ties with Crown’s majority owner, James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings.

    However the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority advised Mr Poynton step down given his history with Consolidated Press Holdings.

    Shares were up 1.3 per cent to $10.08.

    Shipbuilder and defence contractor Austal rose 6.75 per cent to $2.53 after it said its US subsidiary won a $US235 million contract ($295 million) to build a ship for the US Navy.

    Austal will provide a 103m aluminium catamaran which will be used for defence as well as providing aid and disaster relief.

    It is the 15th ship of this kind that Austal has provided to the US Navy.

    Growthpoint Properties climbed 4.95 per cent to $3.28 after it sold leasing rights for two properties in Sydney Olympic Park for $66.1 million.

    Growthpoint managing director Timothy Collyer said the properties no longer fit the group’s portfolio of defensive assets.

    EG Funds Management bought the rights.

    In mining, Fortescue was not the only miner lower. Rio Tinto slipped 0.09 per cent to $127.07 and South32 dropped 0.36 per cent to $2.76.

    BHP was up 0.75 per cent to $49.50.

    In banking, the Commonwealth was best of the big four and higher by 2.36 per cent to $83.49. The others, as well as the Bank of Queensland and Macquarie, were up by more than one per cent.

    The Australian dollar was buying 77.49 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 78.32 US cents at Friday’s close.