SYDNEY, AAP – A strong first-half earnings performance from the Commonwealth Bank has helped keep the Australian market a little higher in early trade.
The market heavyweight’s stock improved by four per cent after the bank flagged an additional $2 billion share buyback and lifted its interim dividend. Shares last traded for $98.14.
Financial shares were one of the best performing categories, also helped by gains for US banks overnight.
There were losses of one per cent for energy and healthcare shares.
Investors have worried that talks between the United States and Iran could revive an international nuclear deal and allow the OPEC producer to export more oil.
Health giant CSL was down one per cent to $252.24 after supplier Haemonetics lowered its forecast for blood plasma sales.
Materials shares, the top category on Tuesday, were little changed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 16.7 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7203.4 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index was higher by 16.9 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7505.9 points.
US markets closed higher earlier, helped by Apple and Microsoft.
A jump in US bond yields came amid expectations the US Federal Reserve will start tightening monetary policy and raise rates.
An inflation report due in a few days will also shape Wall Street investors’ thinking.
Elsewhere on the ASX, furniture trader Temple & Webster soared after first-half sales rocketed by 46 per cent.
The company earnings report showed how lucrative the east coast lockdowns of late 2021 were for businesses in home improvement.
Investors overlooked net profit after tax falling by 40 per cent. This was blamed on the recognition of deferred tax assets.
Temple & Webster was up nine per cent to $8.80.
Technology shares were the best category on the ASX and higher by one per cent.
Mineral Resources had a first-half earnings loss of 80 per cent after iron ore prices plummeted.
Investors will not receive an interim payout.
Mineral Resources was down six per cent to $54.03.
There was little movement for the major miners. BHP lost less than one per cent to $48.74. Fortescue gained one per cent to $22.48. Rio Tinto rose less than one per cent to $118.11.
The big banks all followed the Commonwealth Bank higher. Westpac was best of the rest and rose one per cent to $22.28.
Sydney Airport was having its final day trading on the ASX after a court approved a private equity takeover.
A consortium of superannuation funds recently won investor support for the $23.6 billion bid.
Sydney Airport was little changed at $8.72.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.44 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher than 71.13 US cents at Tuesday’s close.