* Miners rally 2.4%, top gainer on benchmark index
* Gold sector firms 1% despite prices easing
* Sydney faces lockdown extension (Updates to close)
July 12 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose on Monday helped by a rally in mining stocks as commodity prices remained robust, while Australian Pharmaceutical Industries surged on a takeover offer from Wesfarmers.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8% to 7,334.7 points, but prospects of an extended Sydney lockdown capped gains.
The benchmark had ended 0.5% weaker last week as the country’s biggest state, New South Wales, reported a record number of the highly infectious Delta variant cases.
Australian retail conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd on Monday made a A$680 million ($509 million) indicative bid for pharmacy chain Australian Pharmaceutical, sending its shares soaring 19.7% at close.
ASX 300 metals and mining index rose 2.5%, outperforming the benchmark and notching its best day in nearly two months.
The country’s mining triumvirate BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals gained between 3.3% and 1.8%.
Technology stocks rose 0.8%, following a rally in its Wall Street peers.
Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay firmed 1.1% while software provider Nuix Ltd led gains on the sub-index with a 2.3% jump.
Among individual stocks, fuel refiner Viva Energy Group ended up 3.4% and was among the top gainers on ASX 200. Jefferies raised its price target on the company citing strength in its non-refining business in the first half.
The big four banks remained upbeat, gaining between 0.6% and 0.4%, while the financial sector climbed 0.6%.
ASX All Ordinaries Gold index rose 1%, led by Auteco Minerals Ltd, up 9.5%, followed by Tietto Minerals Ltd , whish gained 5.9%.
Market participants await quarterly production reports from major resources companies due this week, with Rio Tinto reporting on Friday.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6% to 12,763.4. (Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Vinay Dwivedi)