Midday: AMP profit helped by merger

Market Reports

The Australian share market has surprised to the upside, defying weak offshore leads to charge back into the black.

The S&P/ASX 200 index has gained 68 points to 5,048. On the futures market the SPI is 63 points higher.
 
Market gains have been supported by another raft of earnings results.

Company news 
 
Financial services giant AMP ( ASX:AMP) has delivered a full year profit of $704 million dollars, up, 2.3 per cent on the previous year. Investors will receive a final dividend of 12.5 cents per share, 65 per cent franked. AMP reported its AXA merger is running six months ahead of schedule.  AMP shares have lost half a per cent to be trading at $5.39.
 
James Packer’s Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) has blamed soft consumer spending, and costly facility upgrades, for its first half profit slumping 34 per cent, down to $180.8 million.  Losses from casino operator Echo entertainment also took a toll. Crown shares are up more than one per cent to $11.70.
 
Best and worst performers  

All markets sectors are in front at midday. The best performing sector is financials, excluding REETS, it's up 120 points.  ASX (ASX:ASX) is the stand out stock, adding 3.38 per cent.  Westpac (ASX:WBC) and NAB (ASX:NAB) have also made good gains.
 
The sector with the smallest gains is materials. It has added 18 points to be sitting at 10, 660.  Alumina (ASX:AWC) is the worst performer, falling 4.5%, followed by Gindalbie (ASX:GBG) and Rio (ASX:RIO).
 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,578 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.029.