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Local shares have overcome a soft start with the ASX 200 nudging higher by 6 points or 0.1% to 6306 points at lunch. At its worst levels, the top 200 index was down by 0.25% in early trade. US and European markets were also mostly higher overnight with an easing of tensions surrounding the crises with the Turkish economy.
It is fairly balanced between winners and losers. Gains in consumer staples, healthcare and utilities have offset losses in the energy, materials and financials space with many of the biggest movers releasing earnings results.
Among the advancers, Wesfarmers (WES) and CSL Ltd (CSL) are of note, both climbing more than 3.5%.In the case of WES, this is despite a sharp 58% drop in FY18 net profit. The decline was mostly due to heavy losses by its UK homewares brand, Homebase, which WES recently sold. Revenue and net profit from continuing operations improved by 3% and 5%.
CSL recorded a 30% improvement to its FY18 net profit with double digit growth for earnings and revenue and beating guidance slightly. There are also advances for outdoor advertising firm, HT&E (HT1) and retirement home operator Aveo Group (AOG), both rising more than 8%.
Insurance Australia Group (IAG) is sliding ~6% as it posted a slight dip in FY18 net profit. Forward guidance was also slightly below market expectations. Fairfax Media (FXJ) is down 0.5% with a swing into net loss of $63.8 million due to write downs for its publishing assets and continued difficult trading conditions for print media. Woodside (WPL) is down 1.9% despite a ~6% rise in first half profit, benefitting from higher gas output and improved energy prices.
The biggest individual stock to move the local bourse is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), which is trading ex-dividend. The nation’s largest retail bank will pay a final div of $2.31 on September 28. CBA is down 3.1% and equivalent to a loss of 13 points on the ASX 200.
Wages over the June quarter remain subdued, rising 0.6% for the quarter and 2.1% on an annualised basis, in line with Bloomberg estimates. The Aussie dollar, which is trading around 18 month lows, is buying 72.2 US cents.
So far, 1.1B units have traded worth $2.8B with 570 stocks higher, 448 weaker and 371 unchanged.
James Tao – Media & Capital Markets Analyst (Author), CommSec