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Australia Market gains on solid earnings, slowing virus

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The Australian share market finished session higher on Wednesday, 12 February 2020, as investors risk sentiments underpinned on tracking positive lead from Wall Street overnight and signs of a slowdown of new cases of COVID-19 in China. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index advanced 32.89 points, or 0.47%, to 7,088.20, while the broader All Ordinaries added 33.86 points, or 0.47%, to 7,185.30.

The Sydney market got some encouragement from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. In remarks to Congress on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, while positive about the American economic outlook, said the central bank is keeping a close eye on fallout from the epidemic, which continues to disrupt travel and trade and global economic growth.

Investors have attributed the bullish trading in stocks to hopes that the Fed would ease policy if a global economic shock from the coronavirus made its way to U. S. shores.

China's National Health Commission on Tuesday said in its daily update that 108 deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,016 deaths in mainland China since the disease emerged in December. The number of new, confirmed cases fell to 2,478 from 3,062 a day earlier, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland, including some of whom have since recovered and been released from treatment.

Financial sector advanced 1.8%, with financial major Commonwealth Bank of Australia closed at a nearly five-year high after posted a better-than-expected half-year profit and said it was looking to return capital to shareholders.

Shares of CSL Ltd a record high close after posting an 8% rise in first-half earnings and raising its full-year profit forecast.

Miners were lower, with heavyweight Rio Tinto closing over 1% lower as brokerage RBC downgraded the company's shares and forecasted per share profit to fall by 47% between 2019 and 2022. RBC said a potential shock to demand from the coronavirus could hurt commodity prices.

Vitamin maker Blackmores slumped as much as 23.4% after the China-exposed firm said it expects profit to more than halve this year due to supply disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar was at $0.6729 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6709.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 12 2020. 17:39 IST