SYDNEY, AAP – Commonwealth Bank shares have powered the Australian market higher to start the week after the bank completed a $6 billion buyback.

The market giant’s shares were up 4.68 per cent to $104.77 on Monday at 1200 AEST after it bought 3.8 per cent of its stock in the off-market move.

The bank will cancel those shares as outlined in August.

Financials were the strongest category and helped ASX gains of more than one per cent.

Other categories which thrived were consumer discretionaries, property, energy and utilities.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 77.2 points, or 1.07 per cent, to 7262.7.

The All Ordinaries was up 73.6 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 7560.2.

The market’s improvement follows a loss of two per cent on Friday.

US markets set a good lead on Friday after positive economic data and progress in the battle against COVID-19.

Increased consumer spending, accelerated factory activity and elevated inflation growth were all shown in economic surveys.

A new oral COVID medication from Merck & Co showed promising test results.

On the ASX, there were light trading volumes due to public holidays in four states and territories.

The Reserve Bank is due for a cash rate decision on Tuesday, although no change is expected to the record low rate of 0.1 per cent.

In company news, furniture group Nick Scali has bought the Plush-Think Sofas business for $103 million.

Plush-Think Sofas has 46 stores across Australia and had earnings of $27 million last financial year.

Nick Scali shares were higher by 10 per cent to $12.08.

Building materials supplier Boral has completed the sale of its North American building products business for $US2.15 billion ($A2.95 billion).

Boral sold the operations to Westlake Chemical Corporation of the US.

It also completed the sale of its timber business for $64.5 million to Pentarch Group.

Boral will use the proceeds to reduce debt.

Shares were up 3.68 per cent to $6.19.

The big miners were lower. Fortescue fared worst and shed 1.37 per cent to $14.37. BHP and Rio Tinto lost less than one per cent.

Travel stocks continued their recent upswing after last week’s news that Australians should be able to travel overseas before the end of the year.

Flight Centre gained 7.5 per cent to $23.49.

Qantas rose 2.71 per cent to $5.86.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.66 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 72.26 US cents at Friday’s close.