SYDNEY, AAP – Company earnings reports have sent major stocks in opposite directions while the Australian market looked like settling higher for a second consecutive day.
The market was up 0.61 per cent on Thursday after US markets moved little amid tension between Russia and Western nations, and a more relaxed approach to rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.
Bunnings and Kmart owner Wesfarmers was one of the biggest movers on the domestic market after its first-half earnings report.
Wesfarmers fell six per cent to $51.43 after revealing profit fell 12 per cent due to coronavirus store closures and trading restrictions.
Meanwhile market giant CSL had more sizeable gains in the wake of Wednesday’s first-half earnings.
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CSL was up four per cent to $275.82 and helped healthcare shares be the best performers.
Shares in the biotech gained eight per cent a day earlier.
Elsewhere on the market, the major banks and miners were all higher.
The worst-performing shares were consumer discretionaries and telecommunications. Each category lost two per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 44.8 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 7329.7 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index was higher by 39.1 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 7612.1 points.
Wall Street was little changed after the US rejected Russia’s claim it is moving troops away from the Ukraine border.
The massing of troops has provoked fears of an invasion and US officials claimed Russia had instead increased the number of troops.
US investors also examined Federal Reserve meeting minutes from January.
These showed that while policymakers agreed that it would soon be appropriate to raise the rate from its near-zero level, they would reassess at each meeting.
In Australia, the unemployment rate held steady at a 13-year low of 4.2 per cent in January.
There was an 8.8 per cent drop in the numbers of hours worked due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
In ASX earnings, Telstra reported a drop in operating earnings that it attributed to one-off costs, but recorded strong growth for its mobile network.
The telco, regarded by analysts as a high-yielding and low volatile stock, will pay an interim dividend of eight cents per share, in line with expectations.
Telstra was down almost three per cent to $3.95.
Australia’s largest coal-fired power station is heading for the chopping block much earlier than expected, and will be replaced with a large-scale battery.
Power retailer Origin Energy plans to close the Eraring power station in Lake Macquarie, NSW in August 2025.
Origin was down two per cent to $5.97.
Crown Resorts, set to be taken over by a US private equity firm in a near $9 billion deal, has extended interim losses.
It posted a net loss of $196 million for the six months ended December 31, compared to a loss of $121 million in the previous corresponding period.
Crown was little changed at $12.55.
The boss of casino operator Star Entertainment insists its focus on preventing criminal activity has never wavered as investors brace for bigger problems than its $74 million first-half loss.
Chief executive Matt Bekier reassured investors they have nothing to fear from probes into whether the company has been lax in preventing money laundering at its casinos.
Star was down less than one per cent to $3.67.
The major banks were all higher by less than one per cent.
In mining, BHP rose two per cent to $48.51. Rio Tinto rose almost two per cent to $120.88. Fortescue gained less than half a per cent to $21.21.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.95 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher than 71.55 US cents at Wednesday’s close.