SYDNEY, AAP – Investors were lapping up earnings from Fortescue and Rio Tinto as the ASX traded just below record high levels.

Iron ore specialist Fortescue on Thursday reported record fourth-quarter shipments helped beat its annual forecast.

Shares were up 1.78 per cent to $26.27 at 1200 AEST.

Investors also responded to Rio Tinto’s first-half earnings, given after trading closed on Wednesday.

Rio more than doubled profit from the same period last year.

The miner will also return $US9.1 billion in dividends to shareholders.

Shares were up 2.69 per cent to $135.78.

Materials shares were only bettered by technology ones, which rose 2.47 per cent.

Electronics design software vendor Altium jumped 4.15 per cent to $34.37.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 29 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7408.3.

The All Ordinaries was up 34.1 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 7683.7.

US markets provided a spur for technology stocks across the world.

Google parent Alphabet posted record quarterly results, helped by a surge in advertising.

The Nasdaq ended sharply higher.

The S&P 500 was little changed and the Dow Jones closed lower after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank was still not considering raising interest rates.

The regulator said the US job market still had “some ground to cover” before it would pull back the economic support provided since the pandemic took hold.

In Australia, NSW reported its highest number of daily virus infections from the current outbreak, 239.

People in Sydney and surrounds remain in lockdown until August 28.

In ASX company news, Priceline Pharmacy owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries has rejected a takeover offer from Wesfarmers.

API said the $687 million offer for all shares, made earlier this month, undervalued the company.

Wesfarmers offered $1.38 per share.

API shares were up 0.88 per cent to $1.42.

Wesfarmers shares were down 0.24 per cent to $61.40.

Macquarie Group held its annual general meeting and trimmed its dividend payout range.

This was despite a rise in first-quarter profit.

Shares were little changed at $156.72.

The investment group was doing better than the big four banks.

They were all lower. NAB was worst and dropped 0.42 per cent to $25.80.

Sleep apnoea specialist Resmed extended its record share price to $36.16.

The feat comes prior to reporting four quarter earnings on August 5.

Shares in bookmaker PointsBet were in a trading halt after the company said it would raise $400 million.

The funds will help expand operations in US sports betting and internet gaming.

Shares last traded at $11.29.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.65 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 73.60 US cents at Wednesday’s close.