* Fortescue up 3.1% on forecast hike, bumper dividend
* CSL jumps 5% as half-year profit rises
* ANZ jumps 4.4%, hits near 1-year high
* Woodside Petroleum down 3.7% on annual profit slump
Feb 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose marginally on
Thursday after swinging between positive and negative territory,
as a reversal in iron ore mining giants and strong earnings
reports by blue-chip firms pushed the benchmark index higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.25% at 6,902.60 by
0120 GMT, after losing up to 0.14% earlier in the session.
Heavyweight mining stocks gained up to 0.5% after
declining as much as 1.6%, as top iron ore miners changed
Fortescue Metals Group jumped 3.1%, bouncing back
from an earlier loss of up to 2.6% on the back of annual iron
ore shipment forecast hike, strong first-half profit and a
higher-than-expected interim dividend.
After market hours on Wednesday, Rio Tinto reported
its best annual earnings since 2011 and declared a record
dividend payout. Its shares rose up to 1%, after losing as much
as 2.6% earlier in the session.
Healthcare was the biggest boost to the benchmark,
adding 3.2% on the back of biotech firm CSL.
CSL shares jumped 5% after the company reported a rise in
half-year profit as demand for vaccines and blood plasma
Financials were up 0.5%, with Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group gaining as much as 4.4% to hit
its highest since February last year, after it reported a rise
in first-quarter profit and said it was well-positioned for the
rest of the year.
Among losers, energy stocks slipped 1.7%, dragged by
a 3.7% drop in Woodside Petroleum after Australia's top
independent gas producer posted a 58% slump in its annual
Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers declined up to 3.1%
after it warned of a moderation in retail sales growth at its
Bunnings and Officeworks divisions from March.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained as
much as 0.9% to 12,785.68, with financials and utilities
contributing the most.
(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by