SYDNEY, AAP – A second consecutive broad-based rally was under way on the Australian share market as investors kept cheering scientific claims that the Omicron variant may not be as damaging as feared.

The market was almost one per cent higher on Wednesday and the biggest gains were in materials, energy and technology.

Higher iron ore prices helped the mining giants contribute significantly. Fortescue jumped three per cent, while BHP and Rio Tinto gained about two per cent each.

Oil prices also climbed as concerns eased about the latest coronavirus variant. Beach and Oil Search shares each gained a little more than three per cent.

At 1200 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 65.1 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 7379 points.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 76.5 points, or one per cent, to 7681.7 points.

There were big gains on US markets after British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline said a COVID-19 therapy it was developing was effective against all mutations of the Omicron variant.

The Nasdaq gained three per cent. The S&P 500 improved by two per cent. The Dow Jones gained 1.4 per cent.

A standout ASX technology performer was buy now, pay later provider Zip. Its shares were almost 10 per cent higher. The company on Tuesday reported a record month in gross sales and shares closed almost 10 per cent higher.

In company news, oil and gas supplier Woodside will invest $5 billion in low carbon energy by 2030 while still benefiting from its recently announced merger with BHP’s petroleum business.

Chief executive Meg O’Neill told investors that while she expected liquefied natural gas would remain an important energy source for decades, Woodside should support customers’ efforts to lower carbon production.

Ms O’Neill did not say where the $5 billion will be spent.

Shares were up 2.37 per cent to $22.46.

A Papua New Guinea regulator has cleared the merger of Oil Search and Santos.

The consumer and competition commission cleared the proposal although court approval is still required.

Santos was up 2.88 per cent to $6.77.

Banks were mixed. ANZ fell 0.32 per cent to $27.37. The Commonwealth was little changed at $97.62. NAB and Westpac each gained less than 0.3 per cent.

Telstra has secured the maximum amount of low band spectrum allowed in a government auction.

The carrier paid $616 million for the spectrum which will help customers transfer data using services such as 5G.

Shares were higher by about 0.5 per cent to $4.03.

The Australian dollar was buying 71.21 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 70.78 US cents at Tuesday’s close.