Australian stocks inched higher at noon in a cautious end to a week of good gains following mixed offshore leads.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index crept up 13.5 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 7,104.7 at noon AEDT on Friday while the broader All Ordinaries index added just 10 points to 7,204.8.
The energy, materials, consumer discretionary and tech sectors were slightly lower but the other indices made subdued gains.
There was little major local company news on Friday but Baby Bunting reported a small increase in its first-half net profit.
It was not enough to entice investors and shares in the specialist baby goods retailer dropped almost 9.5 per cent to $3.44.
The big four banks were higher, with National Australia Bank adding the most, up 65 cents, or 2.45 per cent, to $27.41.
TPG and Vodafone Australia’s joint owner Hutchison were lower on Friday after their shares rocketed on Thursday following the green light for their proposed $15 billion Vodafone and TPG merger.
Hutchinson’s shares were down 9.0 per cent, or 1.5 cents, at 15 cents. TPG was almost 4.0 per cent, or 32 cents, lower at $7.83.
Oil and gas producers were off, with Woodside down 45 cents at $33.29. Santos was down 8.5 cents at $8.145.
Gold stocks dipped, with Newcrest and Northern Star losing 2.89 per cent and 2.54 per cent respectively to $28.20 and $13.41 despite a lift in the gold price on Thursday.
Gold rose as global markets dipped on Thursday after a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases at the epicentre of the outbreak in China.
But fears were eased after the World Health Organisation explained the surge was due to new reporting methods and officials were not seeing dramatic increases outside China.
Australia’s share market had notched up a record high on Thursday before reversing to close slightly up. The US also ended a little higher but European and Asian markets fell.
The Australian dollar was buying 67.21 US cents at noon on Friday, up from 67.16 US cents as the market closed on Thursday.