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After a firmer start to Friday’s session, the ASX 200 is giving up its early improvements towards lunch. After rising as much as 27 points in the opening hours, the index is now down 5 points or 0.08% to 5,956 around midday.

It is also the last trading day for the week and month. For the week, the index is on track for a ~3% fall, the worst week since late April but the monthly performance in October is far more positive, with a near 2.5% rise.

So far, the financials, materials and energy are among the most improved while most of the other sectors trade in the red with industrials and IT among the largest decliners.

Energy stocks are making gains despite another steep decline in global oil prices as traders remain worried about oil demand due to rising COVID19 cases globally and further lockdowns in parts of Europe. Woodside (WPL) is 1.5% higher and Santos (STO) is lifting 1.9% even as oil prices fell over 3% to 5-month lows.

Mining names are being led by a 4.5% jump in Fortescue Metals (FMG) on several positive broker reports on its capital allocation and potential dividend payments. But nickel miner, Western Areas (WSA) is slumping 18% on a production guidance downgrade.

Wealth manager AMP Limited (AMP) is one of the standouts on the market today with confirmation of a
proposed takeover bid by US investment firm, Ares Management Corporation. The talks are still in preliminary stages while AMP conducts its portfolio review with significant interest received in its assets and businesses. AMP shares have surged 21%.

ResMed (RMD) is another winner so far with the medical device maker rallying 9.7% on the release of the 1Q21 earnings. A 10% lift in revenue to $751.9 million was ahead of expectations with the company still benefitting from the sale of ventilators due to COVID-19. Earnings (EBIT) margins also improved.

The Aussie dollar fell on US strength and is buying 70.36 US cents. The local unit could remain pressured ahead of next week’s RBA meeting where further monetary policy easing is expected to see the official cash rate fall to a new record low.

Published by CommSec