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Local shares are looking to finish a tumultuous week on a high note with stocks improving at lunch on Friday. The ASX 200 index is improving by 19 points or 0.3% to 6702 and improving for a second consecutive session. Over the week, the benchmark index is still down 2.1% with a heavy sell-off earlier in the week on concerns of heightened trade tensions between the US and China.

Moves have been rather muted so far and in step with choppy trade for northern hemisphere markets with mixed outcomes from Europe and Wall Street. Locally gains are rather broad based but the majority of sectors are only notching subdued improvements. Leading the way is the utilities sector while health and industrials are also outperforming.

On the company front, nib Group (NHF) is climbing 2.2% with the health insurer teaming up with US group Cigna to create a specialist healthcare data science and services company to better prevent diseases, which is hoped to minimise hospitalisation costs and improve lifestyles of members.

Sydney Airport (SYD) is higher by 1.1% with Australia’s busiest airport holding an investor day. Chinese residents remain the airport’s number one arrivals with 1.23 million passengers in the 12 months to June 2019.

Newcrest Mining (NCM) has increased its stake in a Canadian miner Lundin Gold to a total of 32% ownership. A NCM executive, Craig Jetson, will also replace outgoing CEO of St Barbara (SBM), Bob Vassie, in February 2020. NCM shares are advancing 1.2% while SBM is down 0.6%.

Boral Ltd (BLD) is sliding 6.9% with the building materials maker expecting a one off impact of $20-$30 million to earnings (EBITDA) due to financial irregularities in its North American windows business. Bubs Australia (BUB) has resumed trade after completing its $30 million capital raise with funds used for growth opportunities. Funds were raised at a discount price to its previous close, seeing shares fall 7.5%.

The Aussie dollar is little changed at 68.36 US cents with no major economic data due. So far, 0.9b units have traded worth $1.5b with 487 stocks higher, 410 weaker and 349 unchanged.

Published by CommSec