Miners push Australian shares higher as aluminium prices surge

Sept 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Friday, helped by mining stocks after aluminium prices hit multi-year highs, with investors also cheering exiting of COVID-19 lockdowns in most regions in the state of Victoria.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.71% to 7,422.1 by 0020 GMT.

Majority of regions in Victoria exited lockdown on Friday, even as the state reported its biggest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases this year.

Officials have also announced plans to bring Melbourne and Sydney out of extended lockdowns in the coming weeks.

The top percentage gainers on the benchmark index were Alumina Ltd, up 5.85%, as aluminium prices hit a more than 13-year high on Thursday. Output curbs in top consumer China and fears of disruption from major bauxite producer Guinea have boosted prices.

The ASX 300 metals and mining index was up 1.18%, with Alumina being the top gainer.

The top percentage loser on the benchmark was Omni Bridgeway Ltd, down 3.77%. The litigation funding group extended losses after the Supreme Court found Seqwater found not liable in Brisbane floods class action on Thursday.

A jump in bullion prices pushed the local gold index 1.02% higher, with gains led by Wiluna Mining Corporation Ltd , up 5.05%, followed by Ora Banda Mining Ltd, climbing 5%.

Financial stocks rose 0.91%, led by Zip Co Ltd , up 2.84%, followed by Challenger Ltd, gaining 2.58%

The energy index rose 0.64%, even as oil prices fell to a two-week low after China rolled out a plan to release state oil reserves. Leading the gains was Whitehaven Coal, up 2.04%, followed by Beach Energy Ltd, climbing 1.98%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.15% to 13,115.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.56% at 30175.08 while S&P 500 E-minis futures were up 3.25 points, or 0.07%. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)