Aust stocks close slightly higher

Local market lifts after mostly strong earnings, weak wage prices growth.

The Australian stock market closed slightly higher today after a stream of mostly positive company earnings reports and official data indicating weak wages growth.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 0.29% to 5,408.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 0.25% to 5,415.5 points.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said the benchmark index "rallied modestly today", with follow-through buying on the open.

"Earnings have generally been strong today, notably from Seek which on any metric looks like a fantastic business," Mr Weston said.

"Seek’s earnings today are strong and justify a stock that is at all-time highs and there are not many businesses that have such compelling levels of return on capital, free cash flow per share, or expected sales growth."

Mr Weston said Fortescue Metal's numbers, in line with expectations, have not provided a major incentive to push the stock materially higher.

"In fact, price action [in Fortescue] looks fairly shaky today, trading back into the sideways range it’s been in since November."

Mr Weston said one of the most talked-about concerns on the floor today was the iron ore price and the elevated inventory levels at Chinese ports.

"The bears will point to the fact that inventories at Chinese ports have exceeded 100 million tons for the first time since July 2012 and are at levels thematic of sell-offs in iron ore over the last few years," he said.

"The bulls will counter this by saying the increased tonnage from re-stocking comes ahead of strong seasonal demand, with iron ore traders feeling the price is likely to increase (hence the build-up)."

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