ANZ lifts first-half profit

The dividend payout has remained steady, investors will get 80 cents a share fully franked.

Investment bank Macquarie Group - which is due to report its annual results on Friday - climbed $1.09, or 1.17 per cent, to $94.09, while bank and insurance firm Suncorp gained 21 cents, or 1.52 per cent, to $14.01.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell as much as 3 per cent, logging its worst day in almost six months, after a 23 per cent rise in first-half cash profit fell short of analysts' expectations.

Cash profit for the country's third-biggest lender rose to A$3.41 billion ($2.57 billion) for the first six months to March 31, up 23 percent from a year ago.

In response to the slower growth, ANZ is in the midst of a restructuring that has seen the bank announce 12 asset sales since late 2015, and unleash deep cost-cutting focused on its institutional business, especially senior management positions.

Commenting on the future, Elliott said the reshaping of the business over the past year had delivered strong outcomes for customers and shareholders and had established a foundation for future growth and better returns.

ANZ was the only member of Australia's big four to embrace Apple Pay, having left the group of banks requesting collective bargaining rights with Apple and demanding open access to iPhone's near-field communication (NFC) technology.

The result marks an improvement compared with this time past year, when Mr Elliott used his first earnings result as chief executive to make hefty write-downs to the business and cut its dividend for the first time since the global financial crisis. Credit impairment charges on bad debt shrank 20 percent to A$719 million.

"The environment for banking remains constrained with intense competition and pressure on margins, subdued lending growth, rapidly changing customer expectations and increasing regulation", Elliott said.

Mr Elliott said he expected ANZ to finesse its mortgage pricing to more accurately reflect risk, perhaps by taking into account loan-to-valuation ratios.

Bell Potter's Lim said the narrowing in profit margins had been anticipated by investors, and some of this would reverse in the September half, after a recent round of home loan interest rate hikes.

Shares in Coles owner Wesfarmers were down 0.9 per cent.

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