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The Aussie market is recovering from Thursday’s sharp declines as it lifts in the opening hours of Friday’s session. The ASX 200 is up 23 points or 0.3% to 7,393 near midday but was up as much as 61 points or 0.8% at its opening highs. Local shares are rising despite US markets falling for a fourth session in a row overnight.

Gains so far haven’t been enough to erase a weekly loss for the ASX 200 which is currently 130 points or 1.7% softer for the past five sessions.

Improvements are across the majority of sectors so far with materials the standout performer. While big names BHP Group (BHP)< Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals (FMG) are experiencing muted gains, smaller miners like South32 (S32) is jumping 5.9% Alumina (AWC) is 7% higher.

The Information technology and consumer discretionary sectors are also among the top improvers along with financials. Lagging behind are the healthcare and property trusts which are both in negative territory. Biotech giant CSL Ltd (CSL) is the largest individual weight on the market with a fall of 1%.

In company news, Santos (STO) and Oil Search (OSH) were placed in a temporary trading pause prior to a joint announcement that both companies have agreed to merge, entering into a definitive agreement where OSH shareholders will own ~38.5% of the merged entity and STO shareholders will own ~61.5%. The merger is still subject to OSH shareholder approval, regulatory approvals & PNG court approval but is expected to unlock US$90- US$115 million in savings per year before tax. On resumption of trade, Santos is 1.1% higher with OSH adding 3.3%.

Elsewhere, Iress (IRE) has extended the due diligence period for EQT Fund Management by 10 days having initially granted 30 days for a proposed takeover. EQT most recently offered $15.91 per share for IRE in August.

The Aussie dollar remains fairly steady against the greenback and buys 73.65 US cents with no major economic data due locally today.

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Published by CommSec