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Australia shares inch up, aided by healthcare stocks; NZ flat

Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 14:30

1_41086077 - 09_01_2017 - AUSTRALIA STOCK MARKET.jpg

[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged up on Thursday, with healthcare accounting for most of the gains after biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd touched a more than 15-year high on a profit upgrade.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.2 per cent or 13.446 points higher at 5,692.20. The benchmark fell 0.4 per cent on Wednesday.

CSL rose 12.5 per cent, after falling the three past sessions.

The company raised its forecast for net profit after tax for the year June 30 to 18-20 per cent, from 11 per cent.

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Market sentiment was also boosted by government data showing that Australian employment rose moderately in December.

Financials reversed early gains to end the session lower with the three of the "Big Four" banks closing between 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent lower. Commonwealth Bank of Australia was flat.

Real estate was the biggest drag on the index, with Scentre Group and Westfield Corp falling more than 1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended the session flat at 7,062.36.

Meridian Energy Ltd and Xero Ltd led the gains, rising 2.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.

Manufacturing activity in New Zealand stabilised in December after two months of losses, a survey showed on Thursday.

REUTERS

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