SYDNEY, AAP – Australian shares were mostly higher but gains were being limited by losses for materials shares.

The ASX was only a little higher on Monday, following mixed results for US markets on Friday.

There were gains of more than one per cent for shares in energy, consumer discretionaries and consumer staples.

Energy shares were helped by prices for Brent crude oil reaching their highest level in more than three years. Brent was trading at $US86.47 per barrel at 1200 AEDT.

Investors have bet supply will remain tight rather than flood the market during the Omicron coronavirus wave.


Top Australian Brokers


Woodside Petroleum and Santos shares were each a little higher than one per cent.

Materials and property shares were offsetting wider gains.

The heavyweight materials category lost 0.84 per cent after the iron ore price dropped.

Property was the biggest laggard and fell about one per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 10.1 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 7404 points.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 7.9 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 7725 points.

Chinese fourth-quarter gross domestic product data is imminent and experts tipped the economy to have grown at its slowest pace in more than a year.

Growth of 3.6 per cent, as predicted, would put pressure on government officials to introduce more economic stimulus.

Meanwhile in Australia, the December jobs figures on Thursday will be the main economic talking point.

On the ASX, Wesfarmers is on course for first-half earnings which will satisfy investors but the coronavirus has crippled Kmart and Target.

First-half net profit after tax should fall between $1.18 billion and $1.24 billion, which would meet investors’ expectations. The earnings are due February 17.

The department stores have not fared well. Sales were down 10.3 per cent due to onerous virus restrictions.

Wesfarmers was up about two per cent to $55.11.

Adbri had plenty of offers for its shares after extending a supply deal for lime with Alcoa.

The one-year extension is worth at least $25 million in sales.

Adbri was higher by 8.24 per cent to $3.02.

The biggest miners were all lower. Fortescue was the worst and dropped 2.43 per cent to $20.85. BHP and Rio Tinto lost less than one per cent each.

Financials were close to 0.5 per cent higher and the big banks had similar moves. ANZ and the Commonwealth were best of the big four and higher by about 0.45 per cent each.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.07 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 72.79 US cents at Friday’s close.