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The Australian sharemarket is lifting for the first time in three days, with the ASX 200 up by 0.36 per cent to 7,301.2 at midday. This follows both the S&P 500 and tech heavy Nasdaq hitting record highs overnight and US President Joe Biden securing a trillion dollar infrastructure spending deal.

Despite the Aussie market’s advance, the ASX 200 hit its intraday high in the opening 20 minutes of trade and has since shown signs of fading. Sydney’s COVID-19 situation remains a concern. NSW reported 22 new cases with four local government areas ordered to not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary from midnight.

Energy stocks are a touch lower even though oil prices ticked higher overnight.

Woolworths (WOW) is sliding for a second day after spinning off its ~$11bn drinks business Endeavour yesterday. Endeavour not only operates the largest number of poker machines in Australia, it is also behind BWS and Dan Murphy’s. WOW is down ~2.5 per cent at lunch after sliding by 11 per cent on Thursday.

Healthcare stocks are down by close to 1 per cent, mainly due to losses from biotechnology giant CSL Limited (CSL). CSL received a number of broker downgrades over the past week.

Westpac (WBC) is set to pay eligible investors a 58c per share dividend today (~$2.1bn). Next week, ANZ, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Macquarie (MQG) will distribute their dividends.

Mining stocks are standing out in percentage terms, extending their winning streak to a fourth day. This is enough to recoup approximately half last week’s declines. Concerns of higher US interest rates pushed the US dollar higher and in turn pushed commodities lower last week.

The A2 Milk Company (A2M) is up ~4 per cent and is lifting for a fourth straight week. The infant formula and fresh milk business remains down 45 per cent Year-to-Date.

Gold exploration firm Torque Metals (TOR) is set to make its ASX debut at 1:30pm AEST today. Next week, 13 companies are pencilled in to make their Australian market debuts.

2.2bn shares have changed hands so far today, worth $2.8bn. 784 stocks are up, 515 are down and 418 are

Published by CommSec