Aust shares up, healthcare and gold rise

·3-min read

Australia's share market has bucked the US lead and risen, helped by healthcare and consumer staples.

The market was a little higher on Thursday despite the main three US indices closing lower overnight following retailer earnings.

Sonic Healthcare shares on the ASX gained almost three per cent after underlying earnings improved 16 per cent in the first four months of the financial year.

Coronavirus testing helped sales rise five per cent to just over $3 billion.

Market giant CSL was up 1.29 per cent to $312.99.

The supermarkets also contributed. Woolworths was up 1.3 per cent while Coles improved by half a per cent.

Slight gains for materials shares almost offset modest losses for financials.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 15.6 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7385.5 points at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 15.4 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 7719.4 points.

Gold prices climbed as inflation worries pushed investors to the safe-haven metal.

Spot gold was higher to $US1870.70 having dropped in the previous two days.

Miner Evolution was up more than eight per cent after buying the Ernest Henry copper-gold mine in north west Queensland for $1 billion from Glencore.

Evolution will receive 100 per cent ownership of the asset, while Glencore will continue to treat Ernest Henry product at its Mount Isa smelter.

BlueScope Steel has reiterated its first-half earnings guidance as steel prices and demand remain strong amid favourable conditions in construction.

Australia's largest steel maker says it expects underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) will be in the range of $2.1 billion to $2.3 billion for the first six months of FY22, confirming the guidance first provided in October.

Shares were down 1.5 per cent to $20.34.

The mining heavyweights were mixed. BHP was up 0.26 per cent to $36.05. Fortescue was down half a per cent to $15.51. Rio Tinto climbed about half a per cent to $89.32.

The big four banks were all lower by less than 0.6 per cent each.

Treasury Wine Estates will buy a US vineyards company for about $433 million.

Frank Family Vineyards is based in California and mostly sells chardonnay along with cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and sparkling wine.

Treasury has recently sold some US brands for $300 million as it targets the luxury end of the US wine market.

Shares were up 2.22 per cent to $11.50.

Gaming operator Aristocrat Leisure had a 40 per cent slide in full-year profit.

Net profit after tax was $820 million for the year ended September 30.

Shareholders will receive a fully franked final dividend of 26 cents per security. This is better than the equivalent payout last year of 10 cents per security.

Shares were down 4.77 per cent to $45.09.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.61 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 72.82 US cents at Wednesday's close.

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