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The Aussie market has started Friday’s session on a more positive note after suffering its worst fall of 2020 so far yesterday. The ASX 200 is lifting 21 points or 0.3% to 7109 just before midday and is on track for its third weekly gain for the year.

Leading improvements are financials, healthcare and consumer names. The big four banks are all climbing by at least 0.6% with the standouts being Westpac (WBC) which is 0.8% higher. Biotech firm, CSL Ltd (CSL) is also lifting 1.3% and continues to trade at all-time highs.

Consumer staples have been the standout this week with supermarket chains contributing heavily to the 3.5% weekly gain for the sector. Both Woolworths (WOW) is 0.4% higher and Coles (COL) is improving 0.6% while the a2 Milk Company (A2M) is lifting 0.8%.

Gains have been broad based with only the materials sector turning negative on weaker commodity prices. Mining stocks are acting as a slight drag on the broader market with iron ore tumbling 3.5% overnight. Rio Tinto (RIO) is performing worst of the major players with a decline of 2%, BHP Group (BHP) is also down 1% but Fortescue Metals (FMG) is flat. Rare earths miner, Lynas Corp (LYC) is climbing 3% after releasing a quarterly update. Production for the quarter was in line with company guidance.

Village Roadshow (VRL) has received a fresh takeover bid from a private equity firm, BGH Capital, with an offer of $4/share and valuing the company at ~$781 million. The new offer beats the previous bid set by Pacific Equity Partners of $3.90/share in December last year. VRL shares are up 3.6% on the news.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) is sliding 5.7% after providing an update on the impacts of the recent hailstorm in Sydney & Canberra. Costs from the hailstorm are expected to be $169 million pre-tax. FY20 insurance margins are expected to shrink with premium growth of 1.4% over the first half.

After hitting a high of 68.78 US cents yesterday, the Aussie dollar has eased back to 68.47 US cents today. So far, 0.7b units have changed hands worth $1.9b with 512 stocks higher, 418 weaker and 325 unchanged.

Published by CommSec