SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market is close to recovering losses from the past two days after comments from the US Federal Reserve chairman seemed to calm investors worried about inflation.

Energy and information technology were the best performing categories and rose more than two per cent on an ASX which was broadly higher.

Energy shares were boosted by rising oil prices. Brent crude was trading at $US83.72 a barrel as COVID-19 hinders supply and demand.

Woodside Petroleum was one of the best of the big energy suppliers. Shares rose 3.46 per cent to $24.20.

In technology, Afterpay shares surged after US payments giant Block gained approval for its takeover from Spain’s central bank.


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The Spanish regulators determine on behalf of the European Union whether company purchases in some nations may go ahead.

Afterpay shares were up almost five per cent to $77.12. They are due to trade on the ASX for the last time on January 19.

Consumer staples, which include big retailers hampered by supply shortages brought on by the ongoing pandemic, was the only category lower (0.3 per cent).

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 58.7 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 7448.8 points at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 59.7 points, or 0.77 per cent, to 7770.4 points.

In the US, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told Congress central bankers were determined to ensure high inflation did not become entrenched.

He said plans to raise rates and reduce the bank’s assets were necessary to maintain economic expansion.

Wall Street investors seemed to like what they heard and US markets closed higher.

On the ASX, property group Irongate rejected the latest takeover offer from 360 Capital.

The suitor offered $1.72 for each stapled security it does not already own.

Irongate dropped 1.45 per cent to $1.69.

Materials shares were higher by more than one per cent and the biggest miners were mixed.

BHP was up 1.32 per cent to $45.24. Fortescue shed 1.6 per cent to $20.78. Rio Tinto improved by 0.35 per cent to $106.75.

Medicines developer Mesoblast revealed promising progress from patients trialling its treatment for lower back pain.

The phase three trial results showed less pain among 404 patients, who were treated three years ago.

Mesoblast will run another trial then may seek approval for the treatment in the US and Europe.

Shares were up about three per cent to $1.35.

In banking, there was little activity for the major players. ANZ and Westpac were little changed. The Commonwealth and NAB lost less than 0.15 per cent each.

Buy now, pay later provider Openpay is ramping up efforts to crack the US market and has hired a US investment bank to advise.

In the UK, the company has shelved plans to buy UK provider Payment Assist and the two will instead be sales partners.

Money previously intended for the purchase will be invested in the US and Australian businesses.

Shares rose 14.28 per cent to 72 cents.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.14 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 71.87 US cents at Tuesday’s close.