Aug 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched higher on
Wednesday, after the country's wage data missed estimates
presenting a case for the Reserve Bank of Australia to rein in
the pace of rate hikes, even as poor annual results from biotech
giant CSL Ltd capped the gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to 7,127.70. The
benchmark rose 0.6% on Tuesday.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed wage
price index rose 0.7% in the June quarter as red-hot demand for
labour drove unemployment to generational lows. The data,
however, missed forecasts of a 0.8% increase, leading the market
to lengthen the odds on another half-point rate hike in
Investors' focus also remained on the ongoing corporate
earnings. "While the U.S. and Australia earnings seemingly have
formed the view that corporate performance is mostly better than
expected, the other fact is that the earnings growth is widely
expected to decline further in the next quarter," said Hebe
Chen, market analyst at IG Markets.
Domestic mining stocks rose 0.4% on strong base
metal prices. Sector majors BHP Group and Rio Tinto
, both rose 0.8%.
Healthcare stocks dipped 0.8%, dragged by a 1.3%
fall in heavyweight CSL Ltd. The Australian biotech
giant posted a drop in annual profit due to declining donations
of blood plasma, the key ingredient of its products, and flagged
higher staffing costs as collection volumes returned to
Energy stocks fell 0.6% in their third consecutive
session of losses.
Santos fell 2.4% after a surprise announcement to
move ahead with developing a $2.6 billion Alaskan oil project,
and posting a record first-half profit.
Across the border, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)
delivered its seventh straight interest rate hike and signalled
a more hawkish stance over coming months. The central bank
raised the official cash rate by 50 basis points to 3.0%, in
line with market expectation.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.05%
higher at 11,852.93.
(Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru
Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)