The local share market has finished almost exactly where it began, with gains by the big banks balanced by losses in the mining and energy sectors ahead of the release of further monthly US inflation data.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday finished up 2.5 points to 6647.5, while the broader All Ordinaries lost two points to 6842.3.
The financial sector gained 1.9 per cent, with solid gains for the big banks as Bank of Queensland reported a 15 per cent rise in full-year net profit, to $426 million, which chief executive George Franzis said highlighted its progress “delivering quality sustainable profitable growth”.
ANZ gained 3.3 per cent to $24.75, Westpac added 3.8 per cent to $22.41, CBA climbed 2.4 per cent to $96.29 and NAB was up 1.3 per cent to $29.88. BoQ was up 11.1 per cent to a two-month high of $7.59.
NIB was in a trading halt as the health insurer launched a $150 million capital raising to fund its entry into Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme as a plan manager.
NIB managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said the company had spent three years exploring opportunities in the NDIS, which he said had become “a vitally important part of Australia’s social capital and a significant economic sector”, with funding expected to double to $59 billion by 2030.
The mining sector was down 0.9 per cent, with BHP declining 1.0 per cent to $39.54, Fortescue Metals retreating 2.8 per cent to $16.76 and Rio Tinto down 1.9 per cent to $95.08.
In the energy sector Woodside was down 1.9 per cent to $33.11 and Santos had declined 2.5 per cent to $7.53, but coalminers had resumed their winning ways after a brief breather.
Whitehaven added 3.0 per cent to $10.68 while New Hope gained 0.8 per cent to $6.65.
Metallurgical coal producer Coronado Global Resources climbed 8.0 per cent to a nearly four-month high of $2.09 after confirming a report in The Australian that it was in merger talks with NYSE-listed Peabody Energy.
There was no certainty the discussions with its St Louis-based competitor would lead to a transaction, Coronado said.
Cronos Australia climbed 10.6 per cent to an all-time high of 78c after the small-cap pot stock said it had secured a licence in Victoria for its state-of-the-art distribution centre in Melbourne.
Some pharmacies in Melbourne will be able to receive medical marijuana orders on the same day from the facility, which is twice as large as Cronos’ existing Gold Coast warehouse.
Meanwhile the Australian dollar was buying 62.78 US cents, from 62.56 US cents at Tuesday’s close.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday gained 2.5 points to 6647.5, a decline of 0.04 per cent.
* The broader All Ordinaries fell two points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6842.3.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 62.78 US cents, from 62.56 US cents at Tuesday’s close
* 91.77 Japanese yen, from 91.21 yen
* 64.57 Euro cents, from 65.06 Euro cents
* 57.02 British pence, from 57.12 pence
* 112.07 NZ cents, from 113.22 NZ cents.
(Australian Associated Press)