Shares were higher on the Australian market after giants CSL and ANZ Bank pleased investors with payouts and added to optimism about a coronavirus vaccine.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 48.6 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6172.0 points on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries index was higher by 48.1 points, or 0.76 per cent, at 6316.8.
Health and information technology shares were blazing by 4.59 and 2.43 per cent respectively.
Health’s rise was helped by a standout full-year result from CSL. The biotech returned a net profit after tax of $US2.1 billion ($2.9 billion) for 2019/20, a 9.6 per cent increase on the previous year.
Final dividend was $US1.07 ($1.48), unfranked. That is higher than the previous full-year dividend of $US1 per share, unfranked.
Shares were higher by 7.2 per cent to $314.63.
World leaders’ optimism about the likelihood of a coronavirus vaccine has helped confidence in health stocks.
The Australian government has signed a deal which would see a British-designed COVID-19 vaccine provided for free to all Australians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects it could be rolled out next year.
Meanwhile IT shares are benefiting from the wave of confidence in the sector from US markets.
Buy now pay later provider Afterpay hit a record price of $77.00, then eased to be higher by 1.46 per cent at $76.10.
ANZ Bank said it would pay an interim dividend and set aside an additional $500 million to cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic. Australia’s number four lender by market value said it would pay an interim dividend of 25 cents per share, compared to 80 cents in the same period last year. The bank had third quarter cash earnings of $1.59 billion. Its shares were higher by 2.98 per cent to $18.61. Meanwhile the Commonwealth, which was ex-dividend, gained 0.38 per cent to $70.75. NAB rose by 0.96 per cent to $17.78 and Westpac lost 0.02 per cent to $17.17. Betting and gaming operator Tabcorp has suffered a full-year net loss of $870 million after forced COVID-19 closures of its outlets stifled revenue. The group’s 2019/20 net loss compared to a profit of $361 million last financial year. The group will not pay a dividend, which had been flagged earlier. Shareholders received a payout of 11 cents per share, fully franked, this time last year. Shares have been suspended from trading as the group has announced a $600 million equity raising at $3.25 per share. Big miners were mixed. BHP, which put out its results on Tuesday, slipped 0.70 per cent to $39.37, Rio Tinto climbed 0.99 per cent to $103.0 and Fortescue gained 0.79 per cent to $18.33.
US markets provided a good lead after the S&P 500 closed at a record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66.84 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 27,778.07, the S&P 500 gained 7.79 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 3,389.78 and the Nasdaq Composite added 81.12 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 11,210.84. The S&P record confirms, according to a widely accepted definition, that Wall Street’s most closely followed index entered a bull market after hitting its pandemic low on March 23. The Australian dollar was buying 72.39 US cents at 1200 AEST, up from 72.22 US cents at Tuesday’s close.