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ASX up zero.85laptop ahead of Powell speech

The local share market was on track for its third day of gains at midday, with a finish in the green for the week seemingly within reach ahead of a key speech by America’s top central banker.

At noon on Friday the ASX/S&P200 index was up 60.3 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 7107.8, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 54.2 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 7346.1.

The gains came after an overnight rally on Wall Street, with the S&P500 rising 1.4 per cent, ahead of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s much anticipated appearance at the annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, economic symposium.

The gains put the ASX200 down just seven points, or 0.1 per cent, for the week. It would be the index’s sixth straight winning week if it manages to eke out those points in the few hours left.

Every sector except telecommunications had gained ground at midday, with consumer staples the biggest winner, up 1.3 per cent.

Wesfarmers was up 2.1 per cent to $48.63 after announcing a full-year net profit after tax of $2.3 billion, down 2.9 per cent from last year but beating consensus expectations. The KMart and Bunnings owner also said it would pay out a better-than-expected final dividend of $1 per share.

All the big banks were higher, with NAB and ANZ up by one per cent and Westpac and CBA a little less than that.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP was up 1.7 per cent to $42.90, Fortescue Metals was up 2.3 per cent to $19.58 and Rio Tinto had added 1.2 per cent to $98.395.

Westgold Resources dropped 15.9 per cent to 98c after the goldminer reported a full-year net loss of $111.1 million, compared to a $76.8 million profit the year before, after taking a $175 million non-cash impairment charge.

Bega Cheese was the biggest gainer among large companies at midday, rising 12.3 per cent to $4.20 announcing it had generated net operating cash flow of $158 million and reduced its debt by $60 million to $265 million.

Executive chairman Barry Irwin called the results “a testament to the knowledge, experience and capability of our team and strength of our business” in a year beset with challenges.

PolyNovo had fallen 9.5 per cent to $1.8275 as the synthetic skin company reported cash outflows of $2.1 million during the 12 months to June 30.

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