AUSTRALIAN STOCKS NOSE AHEAD: What you need to know

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Australian stocks closed higher.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • ASX 200: 5,805.10 +14.07 +0.24%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,850.10 +14.69 +0.25%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7696 +0.0021 +0.27%

The local market shrugged off a three day slide, easing to a positive close, helped by a string of good profit results from major companies.

The Commonwealth Bank was a drag on the market as it went ex-dividend today, dropping 2.6% to close at $83.71.

The other banks were in positive territory with the NAB up 0.7% to $32.20.

Salmon farmer Tassal shares were up 4.7% to $4.61 after posting a 9.6% rise to $27.7 million in profit for the half year to December.

The top stories:

1. Woolworths swings back to profit. But dividends have been cut and there’s profit pressure ahead. Woolworths shares closed 4.4% higher at $26.63.

2. Sales at Blackmores are down. The company today reported a 42% drop in net profit after tax to $28 million for the six months to December. Blackmores shares lost more than 10% to close at $104.53.

3. Fortesuce Metals smashes profit. Net profit soared almost four-fold to $US1.2 billion from $US319 million on the back of the iron ore rally. Also read: Twiggy Forrest just had a $207 million pay day. The company’s shares closed 2.6% lower at $6.98.

4. Wages growth is still pathetic. According to the ABS, hourly rates of pay excluding bonuses grew by 0.48% for the quarter in seasonally adjusted terms, leaving the annual rate at 1.87%.

5. Coca-Cola is quitting manufacturing in South Australia. The company will instead invest $90 million on a facility in Queensland. The company’s shares closed 5.6% higher at $10.47.

6. Acquisitions have been good for telco Vocus Communications. The telecommunications player just posted a 94.9% rise in net profit to $47.2 million for the six months to December. Vocus shares added more than 9% to close at $4.81.

7. Woodside Petroleum’s profits have soared with the rebound in oil and gas prices. Net profit in 2016 rose to $US868 million ($AU1.1 billion), a massive rise on 2015’s $US26 million. Its shares closed steady at $31.41, up just 0.1%

8. iSentia sounds the alarm on its content marketing division. The company says its content marketing unit’s performance was disappointing and won’t break even this year as had been expected. iSentia shares lost 35% to close at $1.79.

9. Medicinal marijuana could be available in Australia by April. The federal government has decided to fast-track the import of the drug. Also read: Experts are worried.

10. A superfast 4.5G network in Sydney. Optus has launched in north-western Sydney, with speeds of up to 1.03Gbps.

11. Qantas just successfully tested its new free high-speed Wi-Fi. It used a charter flight from Sydney to Brisbane.

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