Seek posts 50pc rise in half-year profit, South32 suffers loss in rocky day of trade

Australian stocks have eked out some tiny gains after a rocky day of trade, as investors digest a mixed day of company earnings.

The All Ordinaries index added 1 point to close at 4,945 and the ASX 200 index rose by 6 points to finish on 4,881.

Industrial stocks led the way, after the online jobs site Seek posted a 50 per cent rise in half-year profit.

Seek made a net profit of $275 million for the six months to the end of December and its shares jumped 7.9 per cent to $14.38.

In mining stocks BHP Billiton's spin-off company South32 posted a massive loss for the December half and said it will cut 770 jobs in Australia.

South32 lost $US1.75 billion in the half, after a profit of $US339 million the year before.

It said the result was due to write-downs in its coal, alumina and manganese operations, reflecting the global slump in commodity prices.

South32 shares rose 3.5 per cent to $1.17.

Shares in the media company Nine Entertainment jumped by 5.2 per cent to $1.53 after it reported a 10 per cent fall in half-year profit to $80 million.

Channel Nine has appointed former federal treasurer Peter Costello as chairman.

Elsewhere, the market darling Blackmores has seen its half-year net profit more than double to $48.3 million.

The vitamin company said sales to China have surged ahead, and now represented 40 per cent of group revenues.

Blackmores shares fell by 4.8 per cent to $157.07.

There was an unexpected rise in business investment at the end of last year.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show capital expenditure rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.8 of a per cent in the final three months of last year to just under $32 billion.

But plans for future business investment were weaker than expected.

The dollar fell on the release of the capital spending figures.

About 5:00pm AEDT it was buying 71.8 US cents and was also fetching 65.1 euro cents, 80.8 Japanese yen and 51.5 British pence.

In commodities, spot gold was buying $US1,234 an ounce.

Brent crude was slightly higher at $US34.55 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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