August 17, 2018 / 2:14 AM / in 3 months

Aussie shares edge higher on banks and strong earnings; NZ rises

* Aussie shares gain on banks and strong earnings

* Financials mirror gains in U.S. peers

* Materials and health care stocks among top drags

* NZ rises on health care jump

By Aditya Soni

Aug 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares ticked up on Friday, following a strong lead from Wall Street, with financials driving gains along with Link Administration Holdings and Goodman Group which rose on strong earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 percent or 7.8 points to 6,335.90 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark closed flat on Thursday.

U.S. stocks rebounded on Thursday with the Dow posting its biggest percentage gain in over four months.

Tracking U.S. peers, Australian banks led gains on Friday, with the financial index rising 0.2 percent to its highest since March 14.

“The yield players will continue to outperform, we are seeing money coming to work for the banks,” Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut, said.

Westpac Banking Corp firmed 0.7 percent to a more than three-month high, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd was up 0.6 percent at it highest since November 2017.

Goodman Group Pty Ltd said on Friday annual statutory profit surged 41.1 percent, pushing the property group’s stock 3.1 percent higher to a near ten-year high.

Shares in Link Administration Holdings Ltd gained as much as 9.8 percent to their highest since May 9 after the outsourced administration service provider reported a 67.5 percent jump in full-year net profit.

Teleco Telstra Corporation Ltd also helped keep the benchmark buoyant, rising about 2 percent to a more than three-month high.

Telstra was extending gains after posting a lower than expected fall in annual profits on Thursday.

On the downside, weakness in Origin Energy Ltd and health care stocks kept the benchmark’s gains in check.

Origin extended losses as it dipped as much as 3.5 percent to a more than four-month low after underlying earnings of its energy markets business fell short of expectations.

Health care stocks, which earn a substantial portion of their income in the U.S., were under the cosh due to a firmer Aussie dollar.

CSL Ltd, the country’s fifth largest company by market value, slipped 0.7 percent, while Sonic Healthcare Ltd dipped 2.7 percent.

Materials were also in red, dragged down by lower iron ore prices. Global miner BHP dipped 0.4 percent, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd fell 1.4 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent or 40.22 points to 9,039.13.

Health care stocks led the gains, with Ryman Healthcare Ltd jumping 2.6 percent to a record high, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd firmed 0.5 percent to its highest since July 10. ($1 = 1.3780 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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