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The local sharemarket is mostly flat at lunch on Friday with the ASX 200 giving up gains made on the open. The index was up as much as 24 points within minutes of opening but has since given up those advances to trade 2 points lower at 6566. The muted moves come despite Wall St extending recent gains with the broader S&P 500 and tech heavy NASDAQ rising 1.9% and 2.2% respectively overnight, to break into positive territory for the week on easing trade concerns.

The IT and materials sectors are improving most. Lithium miners, Orecobre (ORE) and Pilbara Minerals (PLS) are among the biggest improvers. But the best performing stock on the top 200 is building products maker, James Hardie (JHX), which is 14% higher on the release of a first quarter update. In the tech space, Afterpay Touch (APT) is 4.6% higher and Wisetech Global (WTC) is lifting 4.4%.

Losses have been predominantly among the more defensive sectors of utilities, healthcare and property. Property group, Mirvac (MGR) is declining 3.7% after a jump of 6.5% yesterday when it beat expectations for its full year profit results. Dexus Group (DXS) has confirmed the sale of its stake in an office tower in Sydney’s CBD. The sale is expected to contribute $34 million in pre-tax trading profits over FY20 and a further $34 million in FY21.

REA Group (REA) which owns, announced its FY19 profit results and reported an 8% lift in revenue and earnings but headline net profit after tax (NPAT) fell 58% on previously announced impairments of $173 million to its Asian operations. Underlying profit rose 6% overcoming weaker listings over the 12 months to June 30, especially in its largest markets of Sydney and Melbourne. REA shares are up 4%.

AMP Ltd (AMP) has resumed trade after going into a trading halt yesterday on the back of its first half earnings. Shares have picked up by 7% as the wealth manager successfully completed its $650 million capital raising to help fund $1.3 billion for its transformation program.

The Aussie dollar is buying 68.1 US cents following the RBA governor Phillip Lowe testifying before a senate committee and updating forecasts in its quarterly statement on monetary policy. So far, 1.3bn units have traded worth $2.7bn with 642 stocks higher, 364 lower and 317 unchanged.

Published by CommSec