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Australia, NZ: Shares subdued amid mixed earnings reports

Friday, August 26, 2016 - 10:37
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[SYDNEY] Australian shares dipped on Friday and looked set to end the week little changed following a subdued performance by Wall Street and as local earnings reports remained mixed.

But trade was cautious ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the day.

Markets are hoping for some clarity on whether the Fed might hike interest rates in September or even December, but it is far from clear Ms Yellen will oblige them. The subject of the speech is the Fed's policy toolkit and is expected to be longer term in outlook.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down a slim 0.2 per cent, or 10.4 points, at midday at 5,531.5. For the week, the benchmark was up a bare 0.1 per cent.

Among the gaggle of companies posting results, Star Entertainment Group Ltd reporting 15 per cent rise in full-year net profit, missing analysts' expectations even though revenue from wealthy Asian visitors hit a record.

The stock fell 3 per cent in early trade, but later pared losses to be down 0.5 per cent.

Travel agent Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd gained 4 per cent to a three-month high as brokers, Deutsche Bank and Bell Potter raise price targets.

Publishing group APN News & Media Ltd lost around 4 per cent, and briefly touched a four-month trough, after reporting a net loss of A$256.9 million (S$264.94 million).

Diversified retailer Super Retail Group gained almost 3 per cent after reporting higher sales and profits.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down 0.3 per cent or 26.04 points to 7,401.24 on Friday. The index was poised for a weekly loss of 0.3 per cent after two consecutive weeks of gains.

Air New Zealand took an early dip after warning about increased competition and lower profit. However, it later recovered to trade up 0.9 per cent thanks to bargain-hunting.

Pay TV company Sky TV led gains, rising 2.5 per cent, after full-year results showed revenue was better than expected.

Orion Healthcare lost 2.7 per cent while A2 Milk fell 5.1 per cent.

Z Energy lost 2.3 per cent fell 2.3 per cent while Fletcher Building lost 1.3 per cent.

REUTERS