AUSTRALIAN STOCKS RALLY: Here's what you need to know

Brodie Grundy of the Magpies kicks during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at Olympic Park in Melbourne. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The Australian market ended higher for the second day in a row, underpinned by a strong BHP, which announced better than anticipated first half results.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,927.00 +19.02 (+0.32%)
  • All Ordinaries: 5,890.00 +17.62 (+0.30%)
  • AUD/USD: 0.7774 -0.0029 (-0.37%)

On Wall St, the S&P 500 was flat, but still at record highs.

Locally, market drag came from companies going ex-dividend, including Wesfarmers (down 2.68%), Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (down 3.43%) and Amcor (down 3.06%).

The top stories on Tuesday:

1. Dealing with plunging iron ore prices. BHP’s underlying attributable profit was $5.352 billion, down 31%, slightly ahead of expectations. Its shares closed almost 3% higher at $33.06.

2. Flight Centre shares on a tear. The travel agency hit its half year results as promised but says subdued trading, reduced consumer confidence and increased costs are affecting the Australian part of its business. Its shares closed up more than 12% to $39.50.

3. QBE Insurance posted a 292% rise in profit to $US742 million for the full year to December. The reversal from a loss of $US254 million was achieved on a 6% fall in revenue to $US18.226 billion. It shares closed up 7.2% to $12.45.

4. Village Roadshow’s revenue and profits are below expectations for the first half of the year mainly due to “atrocious weather” during busy periods at the Gold Coast and Sydney theme parks. It shares closed down almost 8% to $5.87.

5. The Australia dollar to be worth the same and an NZ dollar. And parity with the Kiwi is likely to happen soon.

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