Australia Markets closed

Stocks to watch

Stocks of interest at the close of trading on Thursday, February 6.

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NCK - NICK SCALI - up 78 cents, or 10.8 per cent, to $8

The furniture retailer beat its underlying first-half profit guidance, but its net result slipped amid a "fragile consumer environment".

The company said revenue for the six months to December 31 fell 2.5 per cent to $137.5 million, weighed down by a horror first quarter when it experienced a "significant drop in store traffic" and negative comparable store sales growth of 8.3 per cent.

ELD - ELDERS - up 48 cents, or 6.1 per cent, to $8.31

CGC - COSTA GROUP - up nine cents, or 3.0 per cent, to $3.13

NUF - NUFARM - up 24 cents, or 4.3 per cent, to $5.85

GNC - GRAINCORP - up 25 cents, or 2.9 per cent, to $8.92

SHV - SELECT HARVESTS - up 29 cents, or 3.4 per cent, to $8.95

AAC - AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURAL COMPANY - up 4.5 cents, or 4.0 per cent, to $1.18

Agricultural companies were higher as the drought-ravaged east coast of Australia was set to receive some much-needed rainfall.

COL - COLES - down two cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $16.63

The supermarket chain says a bumper Christmas performance will help it trump first-half earnings expectations, with strong holiday season supermarket sales tipped to offset margin pressure at its liquor division.

In an unexpected trading update on Thursday, the retail giant flagged its earnings for the six months to December would be between $710 million and $730 million - down on $733 million earnings a year earlier - but easily beating the $660 million to $690 million expected by the market.

BIT - BIOTRON - up 1.8 cents, or 21.2 per cent, to 10 cents

The small Sydney biotech company said it was also evaluating its compounds for use against coronaviruses, including the new Wuhan strain that has killed hundreds.

Biotron said it has 30 compounds with good activity against a range of coronaviruses, "including human coronaviruses that cause mild cold-like symptoms as well as the SARS coronavirus that was responsible for the outbreak of that virus in 2003".

ANN - ANSELL - up 18 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $32.63

The glovemaker said it would buy a half stake in Malaysia's Careplus Group, a manufacturer of surgical and latext examination gloves.

It will pay 37 million Malaysian ringgits ($A13.2 million) for its stake in the company, an Ansell supplier.