SYDNEY: Australian stocks were subdued on Wednesday as mixed company earnings and no clear signal from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as to when the U.S. central bank might raise interest rates gave little reason for investors to chase stocks higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 11.8 points to 5,938.8 points by 0149 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday, nearing a seven-year peak of 5,946.8 touched last week.
“The huge rally over the last six weeks put us at a level where it is difficult for investors to get enthusiastic about the market despite good leads from overseas and some good reports from Australian companies,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
Technology and basic materials led the gains, with mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BBL – news) up 1.4 percent and Rio Tinto up 0.8 percent. Resources stocks were underpinned by firmer commodity prices, including a surge in copper.
Shares in shopping centre giant Westfield Group’s , pipeline APA, mining services Macmahon Holdings rose after reporting earnings.
In contrast, energy and mining contractor WorleyParsons dived 13.3 percent to a three-week low of A$9.72 after a 7 percent fall in first half net profit to A$104.3 million.
Some heavyweight stocks traded ex-dividend and undermined the benchmark index. Energy firm Woodside shed 4.4 percent, while telecom company Telstra (Hamburg: TSTA.HM – news) fell 2.1 percent.