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The Australian share market surged in its final half-hour of trading on Wednesday, to close in positive territory despite some major companies going ex-dividend.

CSL helped power the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index, accounting for 21.4 points of its 27.4 point of gains for the day after shares of the biotech and pharmaceutical giant surged to a record high.

The index finished Wednesday up 0.42 per cent to 6,595.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was closed up 29.4 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 6,677.5 points.

CSL soared 6.6 per cent to $234 after Australia's fourth-largest listed company increased full-year profit by 11 per cent to $US1.92 billion ($A2.8 billion) on the strength of its antibody replacement drugs.

Companies such as Commonwealth Bank and ResMed going ex-dividend accounted for about 25 points of losses for the day so the share market had a better session than it appeared.

CBA, Australia's largest listed company, was down 3.6 per cent to $76.63.

Among the other big banks, Westpac gained 0.6 per cent to $28.52, ANZ was up 0.1 per cent to $27.03 and NAB fell by one cent to $27.65.

Every sector except for the financial and property was up, led by healthcare.

Volume was heavy, about 25 per cent more than usual, and Mr McCarthy said that with a number of companies reporting earnings, traders' attention was focused on individual companies rather than broad economic themes.

Pact Group was the worst-performing ASX200 component, plummeting 16.9 per cent to a two-month low of $2.31 after the specialty packaging company scrapped its dividend and declared a $290 million full-year loss following a $369 million hit on a non-cash writedown of its Australian operations.

Aveo Group gained 5.5 per cent to $2.12 after the retirement home operator reached agreement to be acquired by Brookfield Property Group for $1.3 billion, or $2.195 per share.

Gambling giant Tabcorp gained 0.7 per cent to $4.40 after reporting its profit surged 12-fold to $362.5 million in its first full year of combined operations with Tatts Group.

Vicinity Centres was down 2.0 per cent to $2.48 after the shopping mall owner warned the outlook for retailers remained weak and lowered its dividend.

In the heavyweight mining sector, goldminers were under pressure as the price of the precious metal dipped back below $US1,500.

Newcrest, Regis, Saracen, Evolution and Northern Star were down between 2.2 and 7.4 per cent.

But the price of iron ore rose 2.3 per cent, sending Fortescue Metals up 4.7 per cent to $7.56, while BHP gained 1.1 per cent to $37.42 and Rio Tinto was up 2.5 per cent to $87.94.

International Markets

Wall Street has sold off sharply as recession fears gripped the market after the US Treasury yield curve temporarily inverted for the first time in 12 years.

All three major US indexes closed down about 3 per cent on Wednesday, with the blue-chip Dow posting its biggest one-day point drop since October.

It came after two-year Treasury yields surpassed those of 10-year bonds, which is considered a classic recession signal.

Germany reported a contraction in second-quarter gross domestic product, and China's industrial growth in July hit a 17-year low.

Wednesday was the first time that yields for two-year and 10-year Treasuries had inverted since June 2007, months before the onset of the great recession, which crippled markets for years.

The US yield curve has inverted before every recession in the past 50 years.

The CBOE volatility index, a gauge of investor anxiety, jumped 4.58 points to 22.10.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 800.49 points, or 3.05 per cent, to 25,479.42, the S&P 500 lost 85.72 points, or 2.93 per cent, to 2840.6, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 242.42 points, or 3.02 per cent, to 7773.94.

Over 300 of the S&P 500's components are down 10 per cent or more from their 52-week highs, according to Refinitiv data.

More than 180 of those stocks have fallen more than 20 per cent from their 52-week highs, putting them in bear market territory.

All of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 closed in negative territory, with energy, financials, materials, consumer discretionary and communications services all falling 3 per cent or more.

Interest rate-sensitive banks tumbled 4.3 per cent.

Macy's shares plunged 13.2 per cent after the department store operator missed quarterly profit estimates and cut its full-year earnings estimates.

Rival department store operators Nordstrom and Kohls slid 10.6 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

A US House of Representatives oversight panel called on Mylan NV and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to turn over documents as part of a review into generic drug price increases.

Mylan fell 8.5 per cent while US-listed Teva shares dipped 10.5 per cent.

Facebook slid 4.6 per cent on news that the EU's lead regulator is investigating how the social media company handled data during the manual transcription of users' audio recordings.

Source: Morningstar

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