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The Aussie market is looking to end the week with successive losses as the ASX 200 trades lower on Friday. Around midday, the benchmark index is down 22 points or 0.3% to 6,661 but is off earlier lows, having fallen 35pts or 0.5%. Local shares received a fairly muted lead from Wall Street with mixed trading for major US indices overnight.

Even with the end of weak softness, the ASX 200 is still on track for a sixth weekly improvement and is up by roughly 0.4% over the past five sessions.

Locally, healthcare and financials are among the major weights while the industrials and property sectors also face heavier declines. The broader losses are somewhat being tempered by solid improvements for energy, materials and technology. Commodity prices, particularly with iron ore at fresh 8 year highs, is helping to lift mining names like BHP, Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals (FMG).

Biotech giant CSL Ltd (CSL) is having the biggest negative impact on the market with the stock falling 3% after announcing that it would not proceed with its joint trial with the University of Queensland past the current stage 1 trials due to the vaccine causing false positive HIV test results. CSL’s decline is contributing 12 points or roughly half of the ASX 200’s losses.

The big four banks are also the other big contributors to broader declines. ANZ Bank (ANZ) is falling the most, easing 0.9% while Westpac (WBC) is outperforming with the smallest drop of 0.2%. WBC is also holding its virtual AGM today.

In company news, ZipCo (Z1P) is adding 2.4% after announcing that it has signed a partnership with Facebook that will enable small & medium-sized Australian businesses to use Zip Business to pay for advertising on the global social platform.

Independence Group (IGO) has surged 28% having completed its institutional entitlement offer, raising
approximately $446 million as part of its total funding package for its acquisition of a 49% stake in Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia Pty Ltd. IGO shares have been in a halt for the past three sessions.

The AUD remains at the best levels since June 2018 as it buys 75.35 US cents.

Published by CommSec