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(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian share market has clawed back its losses from earlier in the week to hit a fresh all-time closing high – even as five more companies announced their earnings had been infected by the coronavirus epidemic.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday up 30.9 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 7,144.6, breaking the all-time closing high of 7,132.7 set on January 22 and coming within a hair’s breadth of the record intraday high of 7,145.8 set last Thursday.
The broader All Ordinaries index gained 29.1 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 7,237.4.
“It’s a fairly strong day today,” said Australian Stock Report senior adviser Tom Armstrong. “We’re pushing up to the all-time high again.”
The gains came despite Commonwealth Bank falling 2.7 per cent to $87.83 as it traded ex-dividend, shaving 14 points off the index on one of the busiest days of reporting season.
Wesfarmers rose 2.9 per cent to $46.55 after the Perth-based conglomerate reported that a strong performance by Bunnings had helped lift its first-half net profit 5.7 per cent to $1.13 billion.
Vocus gained 8.4 per cent to a four-month high of $3.63 after the broadband provider said it had made progress digging out of its $1.02 billion in debt as part of a three-year turnaround plan.
Companies from shopping centre owner-operators to software firms reported hits to their earnings from the Wuhan coronavirus.
WiseTech Global plummeted 27.3 per cent to a nine-month low of $21.40 after the logistics company said it expected to earn as much as $31 million less than forecast because the coronavirus outbreak was causing an effective shutdown of China.
Corporate Travel Management gained 0.1 per cent to $16.21 despite cutting its full-year earnings guidance by up to $40 million, on account of “unprecedented disruption” from the coronavirus outbreak on international travel.
Webjet gained 10.8 per cent to $13.72 after a strong half-year, but warned the coronavirus outbreak would cut its second-half earnings by $7 million to $15 million.
Crown Resorts dropped 0.3 per cent to a six-year low of $11.76 after the casino operator reported it was experiencing softer trading conditions as a result of travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 virus.
Vicinity Centres fell 5.6 per cent to $2.36 after the retail property group downgraded its guidance, saying the coronavirus outbreak was causing a big decline in foot traffic at some of its key shopping centres.
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises gained 9.6 per cent to a nearly three-year high of $63 after strong online delivery sales lifted its first-half net profit 29.8 per cent.
Coles shares were down 4.2 per cent to $16.04 after Wesfarmers announced it had sold 4.9 per cent of the supermarket chain it spun off in 2018, leaving it with a 10.1 per cent stake.
CSL gained 3.0 per cent to $341, setting yet another all-time high for the blood products company.
The Australian dollar was buying 66.92 US cents, down from 66.91 US cents at the market close on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday up 30.9 points, or 0.43 per cent, at 7,144.6 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed up 29.1 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 7,237.4 points.
* The SPI200 futures index was finished down 20 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 7,046 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 66.91 US cents, from 67.29 US cents on Monday
* 73.43 Japanese yen, from 73.93 yen
* 61.77 euro cents, from 62.10 cents
* 51.48 British pence, from 51.60 pence
* 104.25 NZ cents, from 104.66 cents.