Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 2/18/14

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | February 18, 2014 5:43 PM EST

EVENING REPORT
(5.10pm AEDT)

The Australian share market closed slightly higher today, as investors digested positive earnings reports from the likes of BHP Billiton (BHP) against numbers which missed the mark from companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL).

REUTERS
BHP Billiton posts improved iron ore output figures in the December quarter

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The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) rose 7.4 points by close to 5402.2 points. There was no lead from US markets overnight with stock and bond markets closed for Presidents' Day.

In company news, BHP Billiton (BHP) lifted its first half profit by almost 83 per cent to US$8.1 billion while underlying profit increased by 31 per cent to US$7.8 billion, helped by record production from iron ore and lower tax payments. Shareholders will receive a US59c per share dividend, slightly lower than what the market was looking for. BHP shares closed at a 12 month high, up 2.3 per cent to $38.89.

Global packaging giant Amcor Limited (AMC) reported a 21.2% increase in 1H profit to $326.6 million. The result was based on continuing operations, reflecting the demerger of the Australasia and Packaging Distribution business (AAPD) which occurred during the half. Shareholders will receive an unfranked interim dividend of 19.5 cents per share. AMC shares fell 4.2 per cent to $10.33.

Beverage and packaged food company, Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (CCL) issued a worse than expected full year underlying profit of $502.8m. The result was partly held back by difficult trading conditions in the Australian grocery channel and a hefty $404m write-down of its SPC Ardmona assets. A 75% franked final dividend of 32 cents per share will be paid to eligible shareholders on 1st April. CCL shares fell 5.3 per cent today to $11.22.

Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's February board meeting were released today, showing a period of stable rates is likely. The Aussie dollar ended the session at US90.39c.

1.8 billion shares worth $4.8 billion changed hands today.

In the US tonight, the New York Federal Reserve manufacturing survey is released together with capital flows data and the NAHB housing market index.

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(Photo: REUTERS / )
BHP Billiton posts improved iron ore output figures in the December quarter
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