Australia: Shares flat as miners offset CSL drag, NZ falls ahead of rates decision

AUSTRALIAN shares were flat in choppy trade on Wednesday (Aug 17), as a sharp drop in biomedical giant CSL after it posted lower annual profit was offset by gains in miners.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.03 per cent by 12.25 am GMT.

The benchmark shuffled between the positive and negative territory in early trade, reflecting cautious investor sentiment ahead of the release of July employment report on Thursday.

Market attention was however fixed on the ongoing corporate earnings.

CSL plunged up to 6 per cent at open before paring some losses to trade 3.3 per cent lower, after it disappointed market with a lower annual profit.

This weighed on the health sub-index, down as much as 4 per cent to its lowest levels in more than a month.

Aussie miners, on the other hand, rose as much as 1.2 per cent, helping offset the drag from CSL, with major miners Rio Tinto and BHP Group gaining more than 1.2 per cent, each.

The industrials sector outperformed with a 1 per cent jump, helped by gains in Fletcher Building and pallets maker Brambles on upbeat earnings.

A decline in crude oil prices drove a 0.7 per cent drop in the energy sub-index. Energy producer Santos shed 1.4 per cent, even as its interim profit grew 4-folds.

In New Zealand, investors await the central bank's policy meeting later in the day, where it is widely expected to hike rates by another half-point to contain runaway inflation. The country's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index reversed gains to fall by 0.2 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.85 per cent and the S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.04 per cent. REUTERS

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