SYDNEY, AAP – Better earnings for NAB and support for embattled AMP have been among the highlights of early trade on a slightly higher Australian share market.

NAB on Thursday reported first-quarter cash earnings up nine per cent to $1.8 billion, helped by greater home and business lending.

The bank was the favourite of investors and shares rose three per cent to $29.24.

Investors also liked AMP despite a full-year loss of $252 million and no final dividend.

Company leaders however claimed withdrawals were slowing and have increased its mortgage book and deposits.


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AMP was up almost three per cent to $1.04.

Meanwhile technology shares were best and rose three per cent after gains for US tech giants overnight.

Afterpay owner Block outperformed the local market and was higher by nine per cent to $157.85.

Most share categories were lower by less than one per cent but gains for the miners helped offset losses.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 16.2 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7284.5 points at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 19.3 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 7592.1 points.

Wall Street closed higher after US bond yields slipped from multi-year highs reached in the previous session.

The Federal Reserve is expected to make the first of several rate hikes next month.

The slip in yields encouraged investors to buy growth and technology stocks.

In other ASX earnings news, Victoria’s coal-fired Loy Yang power station will close three years earlier than expected after AGL Energy updated its demerger plan.

The company will also close the Bayswater power station in the NSW Hunter region by 2033, from 2035 previously.

First-half net profit was back in the black at $555 million.

AGL was higher by almost one per cent to $7.60.

The head of market operator ASX will retire in 2022 after six years in the role.

The company will look for a replacement for Dominic Stevens, who helped first-half profit and earnings improve.

Investors will receive a higher fully franked payout of 116.4 cents.

The stock was down three per cent to $84.10.

Miners helped steady the market. Fortescue was one of the best and rose four per cent to $22.29. Rio Tinto was up one per cent to $118.61. BHP was up half a per cent to $48.57.

The banks did not all follow NAB’s share price gains.

Commonwealth Bank slipped half a per cent to $99.03 after a five per cent gain on Wednesday following its first-half earnings.

ANZ and Westpac each improved by less than half a per cent.

The Australian dollar was buying 71.73 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher than 71.67 US cents at Wednesday’s close.