(Updates to close)
May 24 Australian shares pared early gains to
end marginally higher on Wednesday, underpinned by industrial
and consumer stocks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.2 percent, or
8.809 points, at 5,769.
Biopharmaceutical company CSL Ltd was the top
gainer, up 1.4 percent.
CSL was followed by testing services provider, ALS Ltd
which rose to its highest in 2-1/2 years.
The company earlier in the day reported an after tax profit
in fiscal 2017, a turnaround from a loss a year ago.
The top loser on the index was Sigma Healthcare,
which slumped 31 percent -- its biggest intraday percentage fall
in over seven years -- after it said it had decided to commence
legal proceedings against Chemist Warehouse Group for breach of
The company said the cost of the legal proceedings might
decrease its current year core earnings by 5 percent.
Other decliners included Rio Tinto and South32
, which slipped after China's iron ore futures fell more
than 5 percent on Wednesday, the steepest single-day drop in
more than two weeks.
Financials were off 0.02 percent, with three of the
'Big Four' down. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ended
The gold index fell 3.65 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained
0.502 percent, or 37.08 points, to finish at 7,421.78.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd was the top
performer on the index, advancing 1.5 percent, followed by
energy retailer Contact Energy.
(Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim