Australia shares rise on energy boost; set for second weekly loss on virus woes

July 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose half a percent on Friday, lifted by energy stocks, but were on track to post a second straight week of losses as the country combats outbreaks of the Delta coronavirus variant.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 7,293.2 points by 0109 GMT.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.3% and S&P 500 E-minis futures were up 0.1%.

Australia’s benchmark index is set to fall 0.2% this week as the country battles the highly contagious Delta variant in three state capital cities, with nearly half of all Australians under strict stay-at-home orders.

Supporting sentiment on Friday, Wall Street’s major indexes gained overnight, with the S&P 500 notching its sixth consecutive all-time closing high.

Domestically, energy stocks rose 1.4% and were the top percentage gainers on the benchmark and were on track to mark their best session in 10 days, benefiting from a 2% jump in oil prices.

The country’s top independent gas producer Woodside Petroleum added 1.9% and fuel supplier Ampol Ltd gained 0.8%.

The heavyweight financials index gained nearly 0.7%, driven by gains in the “Big Four” banks.

Westpac Banking Corp, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose between 0.6% and 1%.

Australia’s corporate regulator said Westpac expects to pay A$87 million ($64.96 million) to former customers of its advice business who were not given important updates on companies that they held shares in.

Miners were set to rise for a third consecutive day, with global miner BHP Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group rising about 0.3% each.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1% to 12,671.26.

Payments platform operator Pushpay Holdings Ltd and Air New Zealand Ltd were among the top percentage losers on the bourse, losing 2.8% and 1.3%, respectively.

($1 = 1.3392 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel