ASX closes higher on standout CSL profit: Wednesday 19-Aug

Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)


A standout profit from CSL, a gratefully-received bank dividend and optimism that a coronavirus vaccine will come to fruition have helped the share market higher.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index rose by 44.2 points, or 0.72 per cent, to 6167.6 points on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries index finished up by 45.4 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 6314.1.

Before trade, SPI Futures pointed to a stagnant performance, but that all changed when biotech CSL declared a 9.6 per cent increase in full-year net profit after tax.

The $US2.1 billion ($2.9 billion) profit allowed a final dividend of $US1.07 ($1.48), unfranked, higher than the previous full-year dividend of $US1 per share, unfranked.

The company’s shares finished 6.4 per cent higher to $312.05.

ASR Wealth Advisers senior adviser Ben Le Brun gave all credit to CSL for the ASX performance.

“A terrific day’s trade, all on the back of CSL,” he said.

“It was a standout, stellar performance from the biggest constituent of the ASX200.”

The health sector topped the lot and finished 3.98 per cent higher.

The session was the second consecutive one of gains in a busy reporting week.

Mr Le Brun believed reporting season was going better than expected.

“It’s been quite pleasing so far, from revised-down expectations. That’s why we’re seeing the market at the top end of the trading range it’s been in,” he said.

However, if the ASX is to rise for the rest of the year, a medical marvel is needed.

“I still think, outside of the earnings reports, we do need a vaccine,” Mr Le Brun said.

His comments followed world leaders’ claims that a vaccine could be developed by next year.

The Australian government has signed a letter of intent with British drug company AstraZeneca which would see a vaccine provided free to all Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects it could be rolled out next year.

Also delighting investors was ANZ Bank. It will pay an interim dividend of 25 cents per share, compared to 80 cents in the same period last year.

The bank had third quarter cash earnings of $1.59 billion.

Its shares finished higher by 3.38 per cent to $18.68.

Among its rivals, the Commonwealth, which was ex-dividend, gained 0.79 per cent to $71.04. NAB rose by 1.59 per cent to $17.89 and Westpac lost 1.28 per cent to $17.40.

Information technology shares were benefiting from the wave of confidence in the sector from US markets.

Buy now pay later provider Afterpay hit a record price of $77.00, then eased to finish lower by 0.13 per cent at $74.90.

Freight software provider WiseTech Global had a 33.93 per cent surge to finish at $27.87 after a 197 per cent leap in full-year net profit attributable to equity holders.

The profit of $160.8 million was helped by revenue from its freight software CargoWise, which jumped by 20 per cent.

It will pay a final dividend of 1.6 cents per share, fully franked, lower from 1.95 cents per share, fully franked.

Big miners had a poor session. BHP, which put out its results on Tuesday, slipped 1.49 per cent to $39.06, Rio Tinto lost 0.31 per cent to $101.67 and Fortescue shed 0.16 per cent to $18.16.

US markets provided a fair lead after the S&P 500 closed at a record high.

The S&P record confirms, according to a widely accepted definition, that Wall Street’s most closely followed index entered a bull market after hitting its pandemic low on March 23.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.49 US cents at 1716 AEST, up from 72.22 US cents at Tuesday’s close.


* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index rose by 44.2 points, or 0.72 per cent, to 6167.6 points on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries index finished up by 45.4 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 6314.1.

* At 1716 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was trading lower by 2.0 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,115 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.49 US cents, from 72.30 US cents on Tuesday

* 76.48 Japanese yen, from 76.21 yen

* 60.76 Euro cents, from 60.75 cents

* 54.77 British pence, from 54.89 pence

* 109.55 NZ cents, from 110.40 cents.


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