Australian stocks rose modestly early Wednesday, with an advance for financials after a winning U.S. session offsetting the drag from a few downbeat local earnings. The S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2%, reversing from the previous day's 0.3% drop, with gains for the heavily weighted banks including Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (up 0.9%), Westpac Banking Corp. (up 0.8%), National Australia Bank Ltd. (up 0.5%) and Macquarie Group Ltd. (up 1.7%). But Commonwealth Bank of Australia lagged with a 0.1% advance after posting forecast-beating profit growth but also noting weak market confidence. Profit at contractor Leighton Holdings Ltd. rose 1.1% after its full-year profit increased by a third. On the other hand, the market gave a thumbs-down to results from Suncorp Group Ltd. (down 2.6%) and biotech name CSL Ltd. (down 7.5%). Likewise, Oz Minerals Ltd. lost 5.4% after reporting a swing to profit in 2014 but also a suspension of talks with possible investors in a South Australia copper project due to weak prices. A hard drop for energy prices overnight, meanwhile, hit related stocks in Sydney, with Oil Search Ltd. down 2.4%, and Beach Energy Ltd. down 2.9%.
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