(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Feb 11 Australian shares edged up 0.5
percent in a choppy morning session on Tuesday, as solid
earnings from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group helped
offset losses in companies with less-than-stellar results.
The market got off to an uncertain start after modest gains
on Wall Street and a mixed batch of data and corporate earnings.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd
climbed 1.5 percent as the nation's third-largest bank by market
value reported a 13 percent rise in first-quarter cash profit,
putting it on track to meet its growth targets for this year.
Macquarie Group Ltd also looked in good shape with
the investment bank saying its annual profit was on track to
exceed A$1 billion this year, but the stock lost 3.5 percent
after chief executive officer Nicholas Moore said client
activity remained subdued for some businesses that face capital
Cochlear Ltd was the hardest hit, tumbling 10.1
percent to 8-month lows of A$52.95 after the world's biggest
maker of hearing implants reported a 53 percent plunge in its
first half profit.
"Some of the results have been a touch disappointing and
that's weighed a bit on sentiment," said Matthew Sherwood, head
of investment market research at Perpetual
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 23.3 points to 5,245.4
by 0116 GMT, eking out a fourth consecutive session of gains and
hovering at 2-week highs. The benchmark rose 1.1 percent on
The Australian market has had a lacklustre start to 2013,
falling 2.3 percent so far this year as fears about slowing
growth in China and the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering of its
stimulus have seen investors selling out of local equities.
"At the moment the market is just drifting sideways, along
the lines we've seen in global markets over the past day,"
U.S. stocks ended with modest gains on Monday as investors
digested recent market gains and looked ahead to new Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's first testimony before lawmakers.
Elsewhere, a measure of Australian business conditions rose
to its highest in nearly three years in January, and firms felt
more confident about the outlook for orders and employment, a
survey reported on Tuesday. Other data showed
Australian home loan commitments for December fell 1.9 percent.
Among some of the other big-cap financial stocks,
Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.7 percent while
Westpac Banking Corp edged 0.5 percent higher.
A rise in gold prices on expectations Yellen will stay the
course in winding down bullion-friendly monetary stimulus helped
buoy the sector. Top Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd
rose 0.9 percent.
A handful of defensives drifted lower, with consumer retail
staple Wesfarmers Ltd slipping 0.4, while biotechnology
company CSL Ltd lost 0.5 percent.
Feeding more pain on the earnings front, Bradken Ltd
, a global manufacturer, tumbled 11.1 percent to near
7-month lows of A$4.63 after reporting its half yearly profit
was down 18.5 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.4
percent to 4,851.3.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)