Well-received earnings reports from Woolworths, Coca-Cola Amatil and private hospital operator Healthscope have helped lift the share market.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 0.24 per cent on another busy day of earnings results.

With Commonwealth Bank sharply lower as it traded without its dividend on Wednesday, the market held up well, OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said.

“Woolworths has been the real surprise today; the market really liked its comparable sales,” Mr Le Brun said.

“Wall Street did give us a strong lead but there’s been a firm focus on earnings today and there’s been a lot to digest.”

Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities, said stronger sales reported by Woolworths improved sentiment in the consumer staples sector, contributing to gains for Coles owner Wesfarmers.

He said the market also withstood soft official construction data and wages growth figures.

“Whilst the construction data came in below economists’ expectations, it was an improvement of the recent trend,” he said.

The Australian dollar also gained ground, rising by 0.21 US cents to 76.91 US cents.

Woolworths gained 4.4 per cent to $26.63 after posting a turnaround $725.3 million half-year profit, while Wesfarmers added 1.8 per cent

Bottler Coca-Cola Amatil jumped 5.7 per cent to $10.47 as it announced a $246.1 million full-year profit – down 37 per cent largely due to writedowns – and announced a revamp of manufacturing including shutting its Adelaide production plant.

Commonwealth Bank dropped 2.6 per cent while its rivals rose by between 0.4 and 0.75 per cent.

BHP Billiton dropped 0.7 per cent despite declaring a larger than expected dividend and returning to a half-year profit after the close of trade on Tuesday

Rival Rio Tinto added 0.6 per cent and Fortescue Metals shed 2.7 per cent despite more than tripling its interim dividend and posting a $1.2 billion half-year profit.

The Australian dollar defied soft wages growth and construction data to rise to 76.91 US cents at 1700 AEDT, from 76.70 US cents on Tuesday.

February 22, 2017