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Australia: Shares edge higher on earnings, NZ soft

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares inched up 0.45 per cent and away from 2-1/2 year lows on Thursday as some better earnings results helped brighten the mood after a couple of days of punishing selling.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 21.62 points to 4,797.30 by 0245 GMT. The benchmark has taken a beating this week, sliding 4 per cent in just two sessions for the worst such drop since August last year.

Wednesday's close had been the lowest since mid-2013 when the index troughed around 4,632.

Helping on Thursday was a bumper profit report from hearing device maker Cochlear Ltd which surged 9.65 per cent to an all-time high. It also raised forecasts for the year on the back of strong China sales and new US customers.

Healthcare was generally well bid with that sector index up 2.2 per cent.

Goodman Group was another gainer, rising 4.8 per cent after reporting a 79 per cent increase in profits.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched down on Thursday, losing 0.429 per cent or 25.8 points to 5,993.680.

Sky City was the biggest loser, falling 1.58 per cent. The casino operator posted strong half-year earnings on Thursday but investors took profits as the result was largely in line with expectations and the stock had already benefited from guidance given by the firm in January.

The New Zealand Refining Company Limited fell 1.12 per cent after it announced the resignation of director Timothy Wall.

Communications infrastructure company Chorus fell 0.8 per cent, while telecommunications company Spark NZ lost 0.9 per cent.

REUTERS