Following broadly soft leads from overseas markets, the Australian share market opened lower and is 0.46 per cent down at noon, mainly on disappointing earnings results with CBA proving a heavy drag despite reporting a bumper profit.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 20 points down at 5,510. On the futures market the SPI is 13 points lower.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute is reporting that consumer confidence has seen another boost. The index rose 3.8 per cent to 98.5 in August, up from 94.9 in July. The index has now recovered nearly 6 per cent in the last 3 months, taking it to pre-Federal Budget levels however confidence has still not recovered to the levels seen after the coalition took power in the federal election.
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP)
has reported a 27.3 per cent rise in net profit after tax. The earnings result of $106.3 million reflected a much stronger performance in the second half of the 2014 financial year. Revenue from the group’s four casinos in Sydney and Queensland was up 3.9 per cent to $1.8 billion. Echo also said its cost cutting program continued to support earnings growth into the second half. The casino owner and operator has declared a final dividend of 4 cents per share fully franked giving a total dividend of 8 cents per share. Shares in Echo Entertainment are trading up 5.94 per cent at $3.39
Carsales.com Limited (ASX:CRZ)
announced that earnings were up 15 per cent to $138.4 million. Net profit after tax came in at $95.5 million, up from $83.5 million in the 2013 financial year but still below analyst expectations of around $99.5 million. CEO and Managing Director Greg Roebuck says the strong financial performance was a result of the company continuing to build on its positions in high growth international markets including Brazil, as well as revenue growth from its core customer base of car dealers. Shares in CarSales.com have slumped 2.77 per cent to $10.87.
Best and worst perfomers
The best performing sector is health care, gaining 1 per cent to 14,472. Shares in CSL have risen 2.97 per cent and are trading at $67.50 after profit came in at expectations. Shares in Cochlear and Sirtex Medical are trading lower.
The worst performing sector is materials, falling 0.9 per cent to 10,284. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron have fallen 4 per cent, trading at $0.72. Shares in Oz Minerals and CSR are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,308 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 92.81 cents.