SYDNEY: Trading on the Australian Securities Exchange was halted on Monday (Nov 16) as the stock exchange operator cited "market data issues", shortly after shares touched their highest in more than eight months.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 1.3 per cent at 6,487.30, its highest since Mar 8. The index was riding high on vaccine optimism that offset worries about fresh lockdowns globally and helped most Asian markets start the week on firm ground.
"The ASX equity market is currently paused and there is no trading while we investigate market data issues," ASX said on Twitter without giving more details, but said it was working to rectify the issue as soon as possible.
Prior to the trading halt, financial stocks fuelled index gains, with the country's so-called "Big Four" banks trading up as much as 3 per cent.
Fund managers Pendal Group and Challenger each added around 3 per cent.
Brent crude futures rose 0.4 per cent, boosting energy stocks. Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search rose 3 per cent, while sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum added 1.2 per cent.
A 0.2 per cent rise in Chinese iron ore futures helped the index's heavyweight miners, with BHP Group adding 2.1 per cent and rival Rio Tinto climbing 1.8 per cent.
A spike in South Australia's new coronavirus cases, however, caused a neighbouring state to reimpose border controls and the federal government to offer help.
Buy-now-pay-later stocks were subdued after the country's financial regulator published a long-anticipated report on the sector that showed one in five consumers were missing payments and some were facing financial hardship.
Sector leader Afterpay eased 1.6 per cent while Zip lost 1.3 per cent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.2 per cent to hit a record high at 12,854.50, on track for its 10 consecutive session of gains.
Air New Zealand was among top gainers with a 3.5 per cent rise, while Ryman Healthcare added 2.5 per cent.