Boost in CBA, CSL profits fails to lift investors' spirits

The sharemarket traded slightly lower on Wednesday after strong earnings reports from big companies failed to hearten investors.

The sharemarket traded slightly lower on Wednesday after strong earnings reports from big companies failed to hearten investors.

Market heavyweight Commonwealth Bank posted a record cash profit of $7.8 billion, while blood products and vaccine provider CSL lifted annual profit by 19 per cent to $US1.22 billion ($1.33 billion).

But this failed to move the market, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipping 0.3 points to 5157.4, and the broader All Ordinaries down 0.6 points at 5141.

CMC Markets analyst Ric Spooner said there were mixed reactions from traders.

"Neither of them [CBA and CSL] were bad results," he said. "Perhaps the guidance was not quite as strong as some people had been looking for."

Commonwealth Bank shares shed 8¢, or 1.1 per cent, to $73.73, while the other big banks made gains. ANZ was 28¢ higher at $30.15, Westpac increased 33¢ to $31.51, and NAB gained 26¢ to $31.32.

"Traders have compensated to some extent by buying in other banks, as people have rotated out of CBA," Mr Spooner said.

He said solid earnings reports were not enough to accelerate market activity.

"There's a bit more caution creeping in, and so we see a bit more profit-taking in the market."

Investors were waiting on further economic indicators from the US and China, he said. "We're holding steady based on results, and I think we'll be needing a bit of direction now, from a macro point of view."

The spot price of gold in Sydney finished at $US1320 an ounce, down $US19.40.

Meanwhile, the dollar has fallen back below US91¢ after strong US July retail figures helped the greenback rally. Late on Wednesday, the dollar was trading at US90.98¢, down from US91.38¢ on Tuesday.

Easy Forex currency dealer Tony Darvall said the currency was getting some support, despite the rally in the US dollar. "It's potentially going to stay in a bit of a range here; there's talk of buyers in the lower US90¢ area.

"The Aussie itself is benefiting from the upbeat change in view from China in the past week or so.

"If you do see a soft landing from China, then you should see Australia hold up relatively well."

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