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ASX closes 0.3% higher: Cochlear upgrades FY24 earnings guidance

On Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 7638.4 points, with the utilities sector up 1%, led by AGL Energy’s 10.3% surge after reporting a profit of $576 million for the six months to December. Cochlear also impressed investors, raising its earnings guidance for 2024, while REA Group’s caution about higher operating expenses led to a 4.2% drop in its shares. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, a rally in AI-linked tech stocks propelled the S&P 500 higher, with chipmaker Nvidia surpassing $700 a share for the first time, while the Australian dollar remained steady at $US65.3¢.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 6 points.

The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 1.5 points.

The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 9 points.

The SPI futures are up 22 points.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Information Technology, up 1.18 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Energy, down 0.52 per cent.

The best-performing large cap was AGL Energy (ASX:AGL), closing 10.28 per cent higher at $8.80. It was followed by shares in Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ) and Cochlear (ASX:COH).

The worst-performing large cap was REA Group (ASX:REA), closing 4.18 per cent lower at $176.43. It was followed by shares in EBOS Group (ASX:EBO) and BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 2.24 per cent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.84 per cent.

China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.95 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$2,047.10 an ounce.

Iron ore is 0.4 per cent higher at US$126.00 a tonne.

Iron ore futures are pointing to a 1.7 per cent rise.

Light crude is trading $0.24 higher at US$74.10 a barrel.

One Australian dollar is buying 65.21 US cents.