Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 2/21/14

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | February 21, 2014 5:50 PM EST

EVENING REPORT
(5pm AEDT)

The Australian share market rose for a sixth straight session today, thanks to a strong lead from Wall Street and generally upbeat earnings results.

The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) finished higher by 28.1 points or 0.5 per cent to 5449.4.

Reuters
A man is reflected in a window as he walks past the indicator boards at the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney August 11, 2011.

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In company news, insurer IAG limited (IAG) lifted its first half profit by almost 40 per cent to $642 million, despite a decline in its margins due to higher than expected claims. The result was skewed by a $182 million loss relating to the company's discontinued UK business in the prior half. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 13c per share. IAG rose 0.5 per cent today to $5.55.

Gaming and entertainment company Crown Resorts Limited (CWN) disappointed with its first half normalised profit of $315 million. Reported NPAT rose 111.6% to $382.5 million, with that result underpinned by strength from its Macau business. Weak consumer sentiment saw revenue at Crown Melbourne fall by more than 9 per cent. CWN shares fell 3.2 per cent today to $16.68.

Iluka Resources (ILU) saw its annual profit fall sharply as it wrote down a number of idle operations. ILU shares rose 1.6 per cent today to $9.37.

Troubled surfwear retailer Billabong (BBG) posted another loss of $126 million for the half, an improvement on last year's $537 deficit. BBG shares rose 1.4 per cent to 74c.

Santos (STO) disappointed with its result, sending its shares down almost 5 per cent. The energy company saw a 17 per cent drop in full year underlying profit to $504 million. The company will pay a final dividend of 15 cents per share.

On the market overall, a total of 1.9 billion shares changed hands, worth $5.5 billion. 553 shares closed higher, 413 were lower and 364 were unchanged.

At 4.30pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5413, up 32 points.

Ahead tonight, existing home sales data is released in the US.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A man is reflected in a window as he walks past the indicator boards at the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney August 11, 2011.
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