The Australian share market has posted a modest rise as big gains for Qantas, Crown Resorts and Nine Entertainment were partly offset by big ex-dividend retreats for AGL Energy and Woodside Petroleum.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.1 per cent to 5,950.9 points.
Citi director of equities sales Karen Jorritsma said financial results dominated the session.
“Earnings are really what this market is moving on today,” Ms Jorritsma said.
“Confession season was incredibly quiet from a profit warning perspective and as a result we were upbeat on reporting season and that has largely come to fruition.”
Qantas shares gained 5.9 per cent to $5.58 after the airline announced a $378 million share buyback and 18 per cent growth in half-year profit.
Crown Resorts lifted 4.4 per cent to $13.05 as its half-year normalised profit increased and its key international VIP gambling business recovered from the fallout from the detention of Crown staff in China.
Free-to-air broadcaster Nine Entertainment soared 16.2 per cent to a two-and-a-half year high of $1.97 as stronger ratings and a bigger slice of a larger free-to-air advertising pie contributed to half year profit growth.
Flight Centre upgraded its full year profit guidance after its half-year profit improved by 23 per cent, and its shares gained 10.4 per cent to $55.26.
Shares in online retailer Kogan.com jumped 19 per cent to a record $8.60 as its growing customer numbers and expanding range of services delivered strong half year profit growth.
A2 Milk hit fresh highs, rising another 7.1 per cent as analysts upgraded their rating on the stock following Wednesday’s announcement of its partnership with Fonterra.
Infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia was one of the few stocks to fall after reporting, dropping 5.9 per cent because of its warning of a softer second half of the year.
Blackmores also lost ground, falling 14.7 per cent to $136.00, after the vitamins producer’s 20 per cent half year profit growth came with warnings of a softer second half of the year.
Anchoring the market were Woodside Petroleum and AGL Energy, which both traded ex-dividend.
Woodside shed 3.3 per cent and AGL was 4.45per cent lowery.
The Australian dollar fell back below 78 US cents early in the day following more interest rate hike signals out of the US Federal Reserve, which lifted the US dollar, before recovering some ground late in the local session.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 7.2 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 5,950.9 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 10.4 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 6,057.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was steady at 5,914 points
* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $7.9 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.08 US cents, from 78.52 US cents on Wednesday
* 83.90 Japanese yen, from 84.65 yen
* 63.61 euro cents, from 63.71 euro cents
* 56.15 British pence, from 56.17 pence
* 106.70 NZ cents, from 107.09 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,323.44 per fine ounce, from $US1,327.19 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.001pct, from 2.0103pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.816pct, from 2.8096pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.135 (implying a yield of 2.865pct), from 97.145 (2.855pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.87 (2.13pct), from 97.855 (2.145pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)