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The Australian share market inched higher as well received financial results from Wesfarmers and a2 Milk were countered by steep falls by heavyweight miners.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.05 per cent to 5,904 points.

Bell Direct equities strategist Julia Lee said the market was under pressure solely due to significant falls by BHP Billiton and Fortescue.

BHP on Tuesday reported a 25 per cent rise in half year underlying profit of $US4.05 billion, but that was below market expectations.

After its shares fell overnight in London and New York, its Australian-listed shares dropped $1.49, or 4.8 per cent, to $29.81.

Fortescue Metals shed 25 cents, or 4.7 per cent, to $5.11 after the iron ore miner’s half-year profit fell 44 per cent and it slashed its interim dividend.

“That shaved about 15 points off the index so it was always going to be a tough day, but strip out those miners and an ex-dividend AMP and the market is looking pretty good,” Ms Lee said.

Rio Tinto also lost ground, dropping 1.6 per cent, and South32 was 2.5 per cent weaker.

Among the best performers was The A2 Milk Company, which soared 30 per cent to a record $11.30 after it more than doubled first-half profit and announced a partnership with dairy giant Fonterra.

Fellow infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia gained 10.3 per cent.

Wesfarmers shares gained three per cent despite the significant impact of a writedown on its UK Bunnings business on half year profit, as there were signs of improved sales growth at its Coles supermarkets.

Seven Group climbed 11.6 per cent after its half year underlying profit jumped 81 per cent.

Property developer Lend Lease reported eight per cent half year profit growth and announced a share buyback of up to $500 million, and its shares rose 6.2 per cent.

The energy sector was buoyed by stronger oil prices, though Santos dropped 3.1 per cent after narrowing its full-year loss and again declaring no dividend for shareholders.

The Australian dollar has shed more than half a US cent from Tuesday, after the release of December quarter wages figures that showed growth remains relatively weak, while construction work done dropped significantly in the final month of 2017.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 2.8 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,943.7

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 1.7 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,047.3 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up nine points, or 0.15 per cent, at 5,914 points

* National turnover was 3 billion securities traded worth $6.5 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.52 US cents, from 79.18 US cents on Tuesday

* 84.65 Japanese yen, from 84.60 yen

* 63.71 euro cents, from 63.94 euro cents

* 56.17 British pence, from 56.66 pence

* 107.09 NZ cents, from 107.59 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,327.19 per fine ounce, from $US1,340.45 per fine ounce on Tuesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0103pct, from 2.0386pct on Tuesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8096pct, from 2.8483pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.145 (implying a yield of 2.855pct), from 97.105 (2.895pct) on Tuesday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.855 (2.145pct), from 97.82 (2.18pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)