Australian shares kick off 2022 higher on Wall Street boost

Jan 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, boosted by energy and mining stocks, as investors took cues from a strong overnight session on Wall Street and brushed aside concerns around soaring COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations in the country.

The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) was up 0.9% at 7,510 by 2338 GMT, building on its near 2% gain over the past couple of weeks.

Major indexes on Wall Street notched record closing highs on the first trading day of the year, helped by gains in Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and banks.

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That helped investors look past the country hitting a record of more than 37,000 new cases on Monday, with sentiment aided by the Australian government pinning hopes on the Omicron variant's mild impact to support its economic reopening plan. read more

Energy stocks (.AXEJ) were among the top gainers on the Australian bourse, rising as much as 2.7% to notch their biggest one-day gain since Nov. 23. They tracked oil prices that gained overnight on hopes of demand recovery in 2022.

Major oil and gas explorer Santos (STO.AX) added more than 2%, while Whitehaven Coal (WHC.AX) surged as much as 9.2% — its biggest intraday gain since July 16, 2021.

Miners (.AXMM) advanced as much as 1.4% to hit their highest in over three months. Lynas Rare Earths (LYC.AX) and Vulcan Energy Resources (VUL.AX) jumped 6.4% and 5.8%, respectively.

Financials (.AXFJ) also rose, driven by gains in the so-called "Big Four" banks — up between 0.8% and 1.1%.

Firefinch Ltd , which is not part of the ASX 200, jumped 2.9% to hit a near 11-year high after it approved a final investment decision for the Goulamina Lithium Project in Mali. read more

Gold explorers (.AXGD) were among the few losers, dropping 0.6% due to weaker bullion prices. Westgold Resources (WGX.AX) fell 3.2% to top losses on the sub-index.

The New Zealand stock market is closed on Tuesday for a public holiday.

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Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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