SYDNEY, AAP – Market giant CSL has pleased investors despite lower first-half earnings and helped lead a broad-based rally on the Australian share market.

The biotechnology company reported net profit declined by five per cent due to the coronavirus making blood collection difficult.

Yet investors were more than satisfied and raised CSL shares six per cent to $259.55.

The gains for CSL made healthcare shares the best performers on the market.

There were gains of one per cent each for shares in consumer staples and property.


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Only the commodity shares of energy and materials were lower. They each fell by less than one per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.8 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 7240.7 points at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 37.9 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7528.2 points.

Global investors helped Wall Street markets improve overnight after signs tensions are easing on the Russia-Ukraine border.

Russia claimed it has withdrawn some troops near the border, which had prompted fears of invasion.

The United States and NATO said they had yet to see evidence of a drawdown.

Russia is a major oil producer and prices earlier this week rose to their highest levels in more than seven years of economic sanctions. Brent crude last traded lower for $US93.28 per barrel.

The gold price has also surged on concerns increasing oil prices could exacerbate inflation. The price of the precious metal was little changed at $US1,852.18 per ounce.

In other earnings news, iron ore miner Fortescue Metals posted a lower first-half profit and cut its dividend after the Chinese economy slowed and environmental limits were imposed on factory output before the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Fortescue revealed first-half net profit after tax dropped 32 per cent to $US2.7 billion for the six months to December 31.

Fortescue was down one per cent to $21.22.

Its rivals also had dips in their share prices. BHP dropped two per cent to $46.98. Rio Tinto fell less than one per cent to $117.93.

Genworth Mortgage Insurance surged after Ares Management Corporation took a minority stake

Ares recently bought parts of wealth manager AMP.

Genworth was higher by eight per cent to $2.86.

In banking, most of the major players were higher by half a per cent. The Commonwealth Bank was the only one of the big four to fall. It lost one per cent to $98.24.

The Australian dollar was buying 71.48 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher than 71.13 US cents at Tuesday’s close.