(Updates to close)
SYDNEY, Feb 15 Australian shares rose 0.3
percent on Wednesday, extending the market's bull run at 4-1/2
year highs, drawing momentum from overseas leads and a better
than-expected earnings season.
Banks led the index higher, with the Commonwealth Bank of
Australia posting the biggest gains of 1.2 percent.
BHP Billiton fell 0.9 percent after reporting a 43
percent drop in half-year profits, its worst half-year slide in
more than a decade but in line with market expectations. The
company said CEO Marius Kloppers will step down in May and be
replaced by Andrew Mackenzie.
Rival iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd dropped 1.6
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 16.8 points higher at
5,098.7, according to the latest data. On Tuesday, the market
closed at its highest level since September 3, 2008. The
Australian market has risen nearly 10 percent this year on
receding euro zone and U.S. fiscal concerns, while a relatively
strong earnings season has amplified those gains.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index closed the
session down 0.7 percent or 30 points at 4,214.2.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)