Australian shares fall, but still at a 10-month high on US stimulus bets

Australian shares have slipped in early trade, but are still trading optimistically around their pre-COVID highs.

Markets put aside concerns about more contagious strains of COVID-19 and political instability in the United States.

By 10:40am AEDT, the benchmark ASX 200 had fallen (-0.2pc) to 6,746, around its highest value since late-February.

The broader All Ordinaries index was also down by a similar margin to 7,011 points, also near its highest level in 10 months.

Investors are betting US president-elect Joe Biden will push for more stimulus (hundreds of billions of dollars) into the US economy, and prop up global share prices even further — given Democrats now control the House, Senate and presidency.

Oil and gas stocks were the best performers, including Woodside Petroleum (+2.7pc), Santos (+2.5pc), Oil Search (+2.1pc) and Origin Energy (+2pc).

It helped that oil prices have jumped to $US56.06 per barrel, its highest value since February, last year.

On the flip side, gold miners suffered the heaviest losses, like Perseus Mining (-7.7pc), Westgold Resources (-7.1pc), Resolute Mining (-6pc) and Gold Road Resources (-5.7pc).

Spot gold dropped to $US1,850.76 an ounce, having plunged by about 4 per cent since Friday.

The Australian dollar was marginally weaker (-0.2pc) at 77.43 US cents.

More to come.

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