Feb 22 The Australian stock market was steady on
Wednesday, with gains dented by slips in Commonwealth Bank of
Australia and BHP Billiton.
Shares in the country's biggest mortgage lender,
Commonwealth Bank of Australia began trading
ex-dividend and promptly fell 2.7 percent, snapping five
sessions of gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 6.57 points or 0.15
percent to 5,799.6 by 0104 GMT.
Surprisingly, mining giant BHP Billiton fell 0.4 percent,
despite posting a first-half net profit, after making a loss a
"Markets did not react strongly to BHP's results released
Tuesday, which was little surprising. It is a very strong result
for BHP and their commitment to discipline capital management
issues overall suggests real strength in the business," said
Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist with CMC Markets.
"That is probably one of the key factors that swung us from
positive to negative today - the lack of support for BHP at
these high share price levels."
Focus is also on individual stock results today, McCarthy
Media intelligence company, iSentia Group was the
biggest loser on the index, falling to an all-time low of
A$1.66, after it said first-half core earnings fell 13 percent.
Vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd fell to a two-month
low after half-year net profit slipped 41 percent on slowing
demand from Chinese shoppers in Australia.
The country's third-biggest iron producer, Fortescue Metals
also slipped 2 percent after its interim profit of $1.2
billion fell short of market expectations.
On the flip side, Sydney Morning Herald owner Fairfax Media
gained 9.5 percent after half-year profit rose 6.1
percent, and confirmed it was preparing for a demerger of its
real estate classifieds arm. Domain Group is its highest-earning
division, which is valued by analysts at A$2 billion.
"A lot of investors who are not interested in Fairfax's old
media assets are interested in earning a part of the main
business. Now that there is a clear plan to split the two
businesses, they are happy to buy Fairfax shares to make sure
they have exposure to the main business that is spun out,"
Fairfax was the second biggest percentage gainer on the
benchmark, followed by Coca-Cola Amatil.
The beverage distributor rose to a near-two year high after
its annual profit jumped 6 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.7
percent or 56.41 points to 7,059.28.
Fletcher Building fell as much as 4.5 percent to
its lowest in around four months after it said the global market
outlook was uncertain.
Subscription television provider Sky Network Television
fell 2.9 percent after its half-year profit fell 31.9
For more individual stocks activity click on
(Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Additional reporting by
Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru)