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Australian share market edges higher

written by Bella Palmer

The All Ordinaries index ended up 0.1 per cent to 7,543, while the ASX 200 put on 0.2 per cent to 7,241

The Australian share market has pared its gains amid worries about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, with market heavyweight CSL plunging on takeover speculation.

The market increased by nearly 1 per cent in the first hour of trade on Friday, after Wall Street rebounded from heavy losses.

However, it fell into the red over lunchtime, before clawing back the losses.

The All Ordinaries index ended up 0.1 per cent to 7,543, while the ASX 200 put on 0.2 per cent to 7,241.

Most sectors ended higher, with oil and gas firms, banks and miners boosting the market, while health care firms led the declines as biotech CSL slumped by nearly 3 per cent.

The best performers on the ASX 200 were radiology software firm Pro Medicus (+3.8pc) and investment firm Washington H Soul Pattinson (+3.3pc) and Corporate Travel Management (+3.1pc).

All the big banks gained with NAB, ANZ and Westpac rising by more than 1 per cent.

TPG Telecom slumped 8.6 per cent, the worst performer on the ASX 200, after founder David Teoh decided to sell 53.1 million shares, representing 3 per cent of the company.

Also going down were technology firm Codan (-4.7pc) and online retailer Kogan (-4.2pc).

The Australian dollar dipped 0.3 per cent to 70.73 US cents in afternoon trade, after new data showed that China's services industry expanded at a slower pace last month because of inflationary pressures and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Vaccine-maker CSL refused to comment on media reports it was in talks to buy Swiss pharmaceutical firm Vifor Pharma Group for a reported $10 billion.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, CSL said it noted the media speculation.

CSL regularly assesses strategic opportunities that can improve its business, improve the health of people around the world and provide value to shareholders, it said.

There is no certainty that any transaction will result from CSL's consideration of such opportunities and, if any transaction does result, when such a transaction would occur, it said.

Vifor also refused to comment on the market speculation.

It said: Vifor Pharma Group systematically reviews options that can strengthen its market position and/or accelerate the growth of the company both organically and through partnerships and acquisitions.


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