SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was a little higher after its biggest company, the Commonwealth Bank, gave first-half earnings slightly better than analysts expected.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 24.1 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 6845.3 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries was up by 19.4 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 7121.5.
Most sectors were higher, including majors materials and financials, which rose 0.59 per cent and 0.07 per cent respectively.
Information technology gained most, 1.99 per cent, while utilities improved by 1.54 per cent.
The Commonwealth Bank reported first-half cash profit of $3.8 billion, down 10.8 per cent from the previous corresponding period.
Yet the figure was better than UBS analysts’ expectation of $3.75 billion.
CBA chief Matt Comyn was upbeat about the bank’s prospect in the second half of the financial year, citing a boost to the economy from federal government stimulus measures.
Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of $1.50 per share, better than UBS analysts’ expectation of $1.43 per share.
Shares in the bank were down 1.21 per cent to $86.36.
Other banks were mixed. ANZ slipped 0.58 per cent to $24.78, NAB lost 0.67 per cent to $24.86 while Westpac inched up 0.06 per cent to $22.18.
Earlier US markets were mostly lower and failed to make a seventh day of gains.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit a record high early, which later turned lower as investors sold large technology companies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.93 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 31,375.83 and the S&P 500 lost 4.36 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 3,911.23. The Nasdaq Composite added 20.06 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 14,007.70.
Crown Resorts has had two directors resign in the wake of a damning report which found it was not fit to run a Sydney casino.
Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston have left the casino operator after an inquiry found Crown allowed money laundering through subsidiaries’ bank accounts and failed to act when notified.
NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Philip Crawford is preparing to discuss the future of the Sydney casino licence with the gaming giant.
Crown shares were lower by 3.05 per cent to $9.84.
Insurance Australia Group says it is trying to clarify how business interruption claims can be made from COVID-19, after a first-half loss of $460 million due to the pandemic.
IAG, which has brands including CGU, NRMA and SGIO, reported the loss having in November put aside $1.15 billion for possible business claims from coronavirus.
The company will pay an interim dividend of seven cents per share, unfranked. This is lower than the previous interim dividend of 10 cents per share, 70 per cent franked.
Shares were higher by 5.03 per cent to $5.31.
Among the big miners, BHP was up 0.97 per cent to $45.03, Fortescue was down 0.29 per cent to $23.82 and Rio Tinto was better by 0.52 per cent to $117.18.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.34 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 77.29 US cents at Tuesday’s close.