SYDNEY, AAP – Some pleasing company earnings for investors have helped push the Australian share market to its latest record high.

James Hardie raised its full-year earnings forecast and annuities provider Challenger reinstated a final dividend to help market momentum.

The ASX200 rose to a record 7576.3 points in the first 20 minutes of trade, but was little changed at 1200 AEST.

The major shares categories of materials and financial shares were 0.22 per cent higher.

Information technology was best, up 1.36 per cent.

However there were losses in other categories.

Industrials fell 1.15 per cent. Transurban was down 3.2 per cent to $13.58 after detailing on Monday huge costs in Melbourne’s West Gate tunnel project.

Property, energy and healthcare shares were also lower by less than one per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 4.9 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 7543.3.

The All Ordinaries was up 7.5 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7811.8.

US markets had eased mostly lower as a buoyant corporate earnings season comes to a close.

Energy stocks were widely sold as mounting coronavirus infections weighed on the fuel demand outlook.

China reported more infections while US infections and the number of people in hospital were at a six-month high as the Delta variant spread.

In Australia, business confidence and conditions have slumped in response to the lengthy virus lockdown in NSW and restrictions in other parts of the country.

The National Australia Bank’s monthly survey showed its business confidence index tumbled 19 points to minus eight in July and well below its long-run average.

On the ASX, building materials supplier James Hardie lifted its earnings forecast for the financial year after booming first-quarter sales.

The fibre cement provider increased its full-year forecast to between $US550 million ($750 million) and $US590 million in adjusted net income.

The previous forecast for the 12 months to March 31 next year was between $US520 million and $US570 million.

James Hardie shares hit an all-time high of $50.72 earlier.

Shares were still higher by 4.17 per cent to $49.93.

The giants of materials shares did not fare as well.

BHP was higher by 0.11 per cent to $51.75. Fortescue dropped 0.9 per cent to $22.55. Rio Tinto slipped 0.42 per cent to $127.71.

The boss of investment group Challenger will leave the company next year.

Richard Howes revealed his decision on the same day Challenger posted full-year earnings within its forecast range. Net profit after tax was $592 million.

Investors will receive a fully franked final dividend of 10.5 cents per share. There was no final payout last year.

Shares were down 0.95 per cent to $5.72.

The big banks had lacklustre movements. The Commonwealth was best prior to its full-year earnings on Wednesday. Shares were up 0.56 per cent to $105.53.

In the best moving category, technology, Afterpay had a handy gain. Shares were up 2.89 per cent to $133.82.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.17 US cents at 1200 AEST on Tuesday, lower from 73.56 US cents at Monday’s close.