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The Australian market is off to a sluggish start on Friday, with the ASX 200 down by ~0.4 per cent to 7,338.4. This is despite gains in excess of 1 per cent in the United States overnight. Keep in mind that the ASX 200 had its best performance in close to two months on Thursday and was on a three-session winning streak.

Over the course of the week, the market’s focus has been on a potential property crisis in China and the US central bank providing greater clarity on its plans to reduce emergency stimulus measures. The ASX 200 had its worst start to a week in 15 months on Monday, then went on a three-day winning streak and is now back in the red with a lack of major economic data or scheduled company news on offer to influence markets.

The market is mixed today, with some of the strongest gains in the energy sector. This follows oil prices lifting for a third day, supporting Woodside Petroleum (WPL), Santos (STO) and Oil Search (OSH). The banks, which have had some challenging performances early this week, are mostly higher today. National Bank (NAB), CBA and Westpac (WBC) are all up by no more than 0.5 per cent.

Eight of 11 sectors on the local market are losing ground. Healthcare stocks are falling most, sliding by 1 per cent. Cochlear (COH) is one of the main weights, slumping by 5.1 per cent after a complaint for patent infringement was filed by the University of Pittsburgh in the US. In a statement, COH said it ‘…believes that none of its products infringe the University’s patent and will defend the lawsuit’. This is relating to a patent to a wireless energy transfer system COH filed in the US back in 2009 and which expires in 2030.

Friday is another busy session for dividend payments, with over 20 companies set to pay their distributions to eligible investors today. This includes Blackmores (BKL), Perpetual (PPT), QBE, Woodside (WPL), Bega (BGA), Appen (APX) and McMillan Shakespeare (MMS).

2.7bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $3.4bn, with 650 stocks down, 644 up and 415 unchanged.

Please note that from Monday September 27, the MidSession Report will no longer be published. Please visit our CommSec TV YouTube Channel to view our market updates. The Morning and Evening reports will continue as per usual.

Published by CommSec