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Shares follow Wall Street's positive lead

 

The Australian share market has closed higher following gains on Wall Street and as several companies reported profit growth.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.6 per cent 5,855.9 points at 1630 AEDT, with energy stocks the only sector to lose ground.

Philip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the market took the lead of Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.7 per cent, thought it's performance was not as strong.

"The market did fluctuate but it has ended on a positive note," Mr Heffernan said.

"We have had some major reports today and while Cochlear's result was underwhelming, most reported profit growth which augurs well for the rest of the season."

A weaker US dollar helped drive a rise in metal prices, and BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were each around 1.1 per cent higher, while gold miners including Newcrest, Regis Resources and Evolution were significantly stronger.

Cochlear shares were flat at $171.74 after its first-half profit fell one per cent due to the timing of a large Chinese tender and US tax changes.

Elsewhere in the health care sector, CSL gained 1.3 per cent, Ramsay Health Care added 1.9 per cent, and Ansell was 2.2 per cent stronger.

Energy stocks were lacklustre despite global oil prices stabilising after their worst weekly decline in two years.

Woodside Petroleum, which releases financial results on Wednesday, dropped 0.7 per cent, Origin Energy shed 1.3 per cent, while Santos bucked the trend to add 0.8 per cent.

The big four banks were modestly higher, with Commonwealth Bank the best performer with a gain 0.6 per cent.

Building materials supplier Boral posted a 13 per cent lift in first-half profit, but its shares dropped two per cent.

Road toll giant Transurban racked up a near fourfold increase in first-half profit to $331 million, but its shares fell 0.2 per cent.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 35.2 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,855.9 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 37.3 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,957 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 55 points, or 0.96 per cent, at 5,796 points

* National turnover was 3.05 billion securities traded worth $6.4 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.64 US cents, from 78.35 US cents on Monday

* 85.17 Japanese yen, from 85.16 yen

* 63.85 euro cents, from 63.79 euro cents

* 56.76 British pence, from 56.51 pence

* 108.26 NZ cents, from 107.80 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,326.45 per fine ounce, from $US1,323.40 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9828pct, from 1.9948pct on Monday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8228pct, from 2.8582pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.13 (implying a yield of 2.87pct), from 97.095 (implying a yield of 2.905pct) on Monday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.86 (2.14pct), from 97.84 (2.16pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)