News: Midday: Aus shares dip despite strong earnings

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    The local market opened higher today on the back of gains on Wall street but a strong set of earnings results didn’t stop the local bourse dipping 0.5 per cent into the red by midday. 
    Commonwealth Bank pushed net profit up 8 per cent in the first half, Stockland, CSL and AGL all also reported improved net profit figures up to the end of December last year.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index is 20 points down at 5,780. On the futures market the SPI is 26 points lower.
    Economic news 

    Westpac Bank-Melbourne Institute has shown a boost in consumer confidence with its sentiment index gaining 8 per cent to 100.7 in February. Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown a 4.7 per cent increase in total housing finance for December, with Australian’s demand for mortgages beating analysts expectations.
    Company news
    CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) has boosted its first half profit to $US692 million while cooling expectations on its full year guidance. The international biopharmaceutical company says sales revenue pushed up to $2.8 billion in the six months to the end of December last year with a 58c unfranked interim dividend declared. The company has lowered its net profit guidance growth from 12 per cent down to 10 per cent citing current trading conditions as being a challenge. Shares in CSL are trading down 8.07 per cent at $82.74
    Boral Limited (ASX:BLD) has reported a first half net profit with the turnaround coming on the back of its clay brick joint venture with CSR getting further approvals. The building supplies manufacturer says net profit reached $105 million for the first six months while total revenue fell 21 per cent to $2.3 billion. An interim dividend of 8.5 cents has been declared, which is up 21 per cent. Shares in Boral are trading down 0.94 per cent at $5.80

    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector is utilities, gaining 1.6 per cent to 6,596. Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGL) have risen 3.39 per cent and trading at $14.95. Shares in APA Group (ASX:APA) and AusNet Services (ASX:AST) are also stronger.
    The worst performing sector is health care, falling 3.9 per cent to 17,746. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) have fallen 8.07 per cent, trading at $82.74. Shares in Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) and Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT) are also lower. 
    Gold and the dollar

    Gold is trading at $US1,236 an ounce
    The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7784
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