Strong gains in European markets and comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen on the unlikelihood of a March rate hike combined to send the Aussie stocks higher on open with the ASX just holding onto gains to be 0.2 per cent higher at noon.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 10 points up at 4,785. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points higher.
Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH)
has reported a better-than-expected first half profit up 32 per cent to $94 million thanks to higher sales revenues and the lower Aussie dollar. Full year guidance has been raised to between $180 - $190 million and a fully-franked dividend of $1.10 per share declared. Shares in Cochlear are trading 10.09 per cent higher to $100.38 at midday.
Tassal Group Limited (ASX:TGR)
has reported a 4.7 per cent rise in first half profit to $19.3 million. CEO Mark Ryan said the acquisition of De Costi Seafoods has been successfully integrated and realised synergies will allow continued growth for the company. An interim dividend of 7.5 cents will be paid. Shares in Tassal Group are trading 3.77 per cent lower at $4.08.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is healthcare, gaining 2.1per cent to 18,894 led by the aforementioned Cochlear. Shares in Greencross(ASX:GXL)
and Sonic Health (ASX:SHL)
are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is utilities, falling 1.6 per cent to 6,946. Shares in AGL Limited (ASX:AGL)
have fallen 3.16 per cent, trading at $18.40. Shares in Spark Infrastructure (ASX:SKI)
and Duet Group (ASX:DUE)
are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,214 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 71.48 US cents.