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The Australian sharemarket is a touch firmer at lunch on Friday, with the ASX 200 up 0.1 per cent or 10pts to 6727.4 thanks to gains across most sectors. This puts the market on a five-day winning streak, and a whisker away (1.5 per cent) from the best levels on record despite a US holiday.

Highlights this week have included the RBA cutting rates for the second month, the Senate supporting the Government’s $158bn tax plan and major oil producing nations extending supply cuts for a further nine months to March 2020.

Mining stocks are weighing on the market for a second day due to a pullback in the iron ore price from a five-year high. Keep in mind that iron ore is still up around 60 per cent Yearto-Date partly on supply concerns and strong demand from China. BHP, Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals (FMG) are down by as much as 3 per cent.

Banks are mostly higher and property stocks (which tend to benefit from lower interest rates) are lifting strongly at lunch.

Aristocrat Leisure (ALL) is down 2 per cent and together with mining stocks is a weight on the ASX 200. ALL via a media release said it has commenced proceedings against Ainsworth claiming infringement of its intellectual property rights. ALL shares have surged by 33 per cent since January 2019.

Costa Group (CGC) – Australia’s largest fruit and vegetable grower – has announced that Frank Costa has retired as a director of its board but will remain on as an advisor. Mr Costa has played a key role in the company’s growth.

AP Eagers (APE) is up 2 per cent as it offers to divest a Newcastle based motoring group to secure ACCC approval for a proposed merger with Automotive Holdings (AHG).

No data is set for release today locally or in the region. The non-farm payrolls report for June however will be released in the US tonight. This is arguably one of the more important monthly updates on the US economy. The market seems convinced the Federal Reserve is likely to cut interest rates in the next month.

1.2bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $1.9bn. 589 stocks are up, 399 are down and 352 remain unchanged.

Published by CommSec