Shares were trading slightly higher on the Australian market despite virus-blighted results from BHP and Westpac.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 12.1 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 6088.5 points at 1200 AEST on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 17.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 6235.6.

Australia’s biggest miner BHP has reported a full-year net profit of $US7.95 billion ($A11.02 billion) after the coronavirus pandemic challenged supply and demand.

Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 55 US cents per share, fully franked, lower from the 2019 final dividend of 78 US cents per share, fully franked.

Investors appear to have accepted the result and shares were lower by 0.3 per cent to $39.74.

BHP rivals were faring better and helped the materials sector higher. Rio Tinto was up by 0.98 per cent to $101.87, while Fortescue rose by 2.0 per cent to $18.31.

Westpac has pulled a dividend payment to shareholders due to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank reported third quarter cash earnings of $1.32 billion, down from $1.65 billion this time last year.

Shares have slumped by 3.46 per cent to $16.98.

The financial sector was one of the main weights on the market, down 1.14 per cent. ANZ lost 1.91 per cent to $17.91, the Commonwealth was down 0.46 per cent to $70.43 and NAB dipped by 1.54 per cent to $17.47. The health sector was leading gains, higher by 2.9 per cent. The rise followed a surge in Cochlear shares, which gained 8.6 per cent to $215.37 after its full-year results. The company had a net loss of $238.3 million, down 186 per cent, which was blamed on patent litigation costs of $416.3 million. Cochlear is not paying a final dividend, after paying $1.75 per share this time last year.

US markets provided a good lead overnight after technology stocks helped most US indicies finish higher. The Nasdaq has surged to a record high close while the S&P 500 approached its own record level. Minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, due on Wednesday, are expected to provide more insight into the central bank’s view of an economic recovery, while housing starts data is also on tap. The Australian dollar was buying 72.24 US cents at 1200 AEST, up from 71.80 US cents at Monday’s close.