• SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s All Ordinaries index has extended its record high to start the week as the market closed on more records.The All Ordinaries reached a record 7358.8 points in the first two hours of trading, and was up by 25 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 7350.8 points at 1200 AEST.The index last week hit record highs as investors recovered losses from the coronavirus crash, which began in February 2020.

    The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Monday was higher by 24 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 7087.5.

    It was a little more than 100 points from its record, 7197.2.

    Materials shares were the most important contributor, up 0.78 per cent.

    Financials rose 0.48 per cent, while utilities were best, higher by 0.84 per cent.

    Energy shares were the worst performers, down 0.72 per cent.

    There was a positive lead from US markets, most of which on Friday closed about half a per cent higher. The S&P 500 closed at a record high, as did the Dow Jones.

    Quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand have begun, which should help the travel and tourism industries.

    The easing of the border restriction reciprocates the arrangement already in place for Kiwi arrivals, who have been able to visit Australia without undertaking quarantine for about six months.

    On the ASX, metal recycling group Sims jumped 9.4 per cent to $16.63 after giving earnings expectations.

    Sims said full-year underlying earnings before interest and tax were expected to be between $260 million and $310 million.

    The company is benefiting from companies trying to reduce their environmental impact, and global infrastructure spending.

    Crown Resorts has received a $3 billion funding proposal that would allow it to buy out James Packer’s stake in the gaming company.

    The unsolicited approach was made by Oaktree Capital Management, a US-based asset management group specialising in alternative investment strategies.

    Oaktree has proposed the “proceeds be used by Crown to buy back some or all of the Crown shares which are held by Consolidated Press Holding” on a selective basis, according to Crown.

    Shares were up 0.37 per cent to $11.96.

    Lithium providers Galaxy and Orocobre have proposed a $4 billion merger which they claim would create the fifth-largest lithium provider in the world.

    Orocobre has proposed buying all Galaxy shares. Galaxy shareholders would receive 0.569 Orocobre shares for each Galaxy share.

    The proposal needs Galaxy shareholders, court and other approvals.

    Galaxy shares were up 2.49 per cent to $3.70.

    Orocobre shares were up 3.7 per cent to $6.43.

    Medibank Private said its chief customer officer David Koczkar will take over its top job from May 17.

    Chief executive Craig Drummond in February said he was leaving the insurer.

    Shares were up 0.34 per cent to $2.89.

    In mining, BHP rose 0.16 per cent to $47.65, Fortescue climbed 1.65 per cent to $21.16 and Rio Tinto gained 1.42 per cent to $120.57.

    In banking, the big four, Bendigo and Macquarie all gained by less than 0.9 per cent.

    The Australian dollar was buying 77.18 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 77.39 US cents at Friday’s close.