Australian shares were trading slightly higher at noon as investors remained cautious amid US-China tensions and worries about rising coronavirus cases locally.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 15.9 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6039.9 points at 1200 AEST on Monday.

The All Ordinaries index was 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent higher, at 6166.3.

Materials, information technology and telecommunications helped the indices edge higher with each of the sectors holding on to gains of more than 1.0 per cent.

Materials shares were led by gold miners after prices of the precious metal topped the $US1,900/ounce barrier on Friday.

Shares in Newcrest, Evolution, Regis Resources and Northern Star were all trading more than 3.0 per cent higher, while Evolution was more than 4.0 per cent higher.

Among major miners, BHP gained 0.81 per cent to $37.38, Rio Tinto climbed 0.4 per cent to $103.33 and Fortescue edged higher by 1.32 per cent to $16.50.

They were helped by a lift in consumer staples led by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths trading in positive territory. Metcash shares were even at $2.75 after the wholesaler said it is acquiring the largest tool retailer in Australia, Total Tools, for $57 million.

The energy sector took the biggest hit, down 1.2 per cent while utilities were also struggling, down 0.6 per cent. Santos was down 2.06 per cent to $5.46. Beach, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search were also down more than 1.5 per cent each. The big banks’ fortunes took a turn after early gains. By noon, ANZ was lower by 0.87 per cent to $18.13, the Commonwealth Bank lost 0.33 per cent to $72.62, NAB slid by 0.78 per cent to $17.84 and Westpac fell 0.73 per cent to $17.63. Shares in baby formula provider Bubs slid 3.92 per cent to 98 cents after its fourth quarter revenue slipped after trouble getting its products overseas amid the virus crisis. Fund manager Perpetual Limited has agreed to buy a 75 per cent stake in US-based investment management business Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss LLC for $US319 million ($A448 million). Perpetual shares were in a trading halt and last sold for $33.61. The Australian dollar was trading higher after weakness in the US greenback against major currencies. By 1200 AEST, the Aussie was trading at 71.27 US cents, higher from 70.94 US cents at Friday’s close.