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The Aussie market is a touch higher in the early part of Wednesday’s session. The ASX 200 is adding 14 points or 0.2% to 7488 around midday. Local gains follow improvements on US markets overnight, buoyed by positive earnings and economic data.

Materials are leading sector performances with the major miners recouping losses from recent weakness. Energy, consumer and information technology are also advancing. Healthcare is the worst performer with industrials and communications also trading in the red.

In company news, Woodside (WPL) updated its cost estimate for its Scarborough Project (gas project off the coast of WA) to US$12 billion, comprising $5.7 billion for the offshore component & $6.3 billion for the onshore component. This is ~5% higher than the previous cost estimate announced in November 2019. WPL shares are rising 1.1%.

Elsewhere, REA Group (REA) is 1.2% higher having completed the sale of its Malaysia & Thailand entities to PropertyGuru in exchange for an 18% equity interest in the company. REA has also completed the divestment of its 27% interest in 99 Group. The combined transactions are expected to gain ~$12 million.

Air New Zealand (AIZ) has provided an update for FY22 earnings guidance following the suspension of the TransTasman travel bubble in July. It expects losses of no more than NZ$530M, up from previous guidance of a NZ$450M loss. It will also result in reduced operating cashflow.

Company profit results are also beginning to roll in as we get into August. GUD Holdings (GUD) is down 4% even with the auto parts manufacturer and distributor reporting a 40% lift in FY21 net profit to $61 million, revenue and final dividend were also higher than the prior period but the company was unable to provide any FY22 guidance due to lockdown uncertainty. Real Estate investment firm BWP Trust (BWP) is 1.1% lower on its FY21 results.

In economic news, Australia’s retail sales fell 1.8% in the month of June, in line with preliminary figures. June was impacted heavily by stay-at-home orders for multiple states and territories, with the largest falls seen in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services. Volumes rose 0.8% over the June quarter after falling 0.5% in the March quarter. The AUD buys 74.03 US cents.

Published by CommSec