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Aussie shares have kicked off the new week, month and season in positive territory, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.5 per cent or 35pts to 6,881. Local equities are once again just ~0.25 per cent away from hitting record highs for a third consecutive trading day. Despite a sluggish performance from U.S. markets on Friday in holiday shortened trade, a gauge on Chinese manufacturing yesterday was better than anticipated.

The energy sector is the lone loser at lunch, following a 5 per cent slump in the oil price. Saudi Arabia said it will adopt a policy which will boost production. This seemed to be the catalyst for the oil price weakness. On Thursday and Friday this week, major oil producing nations are set to meet in Vienna, Austria to discuss potential output cuts. This is important for oil and ultimately fuel prices. Woodside (WPL), Oil Search (OSH) and Santos (STO) are in negative territory.

The Christmas shopping season has now kicked off with Black Friday at the end of last week and Cyber Monday today. Friday was a big success in the U.S., with ~$7.4bn spent online. This makes it the second largest online shopping day on record in the U.S. In coming days, we should get some sense of retailer success here in Australia. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have gained in popularity locally.

Opthea (OPT) is up 9 per cent after raising $50m from investors via an institutional placement. This is expected to provide more funding certainty as it continues to invest in developing its macular degeneration treatment. OPT shares have surged by more than 400 per cent Year-to-Date (a $1,000 investment on January 1 would be worth ~$5,200 today).

Woolworths (WOW) released a statement saying a Canberra based law firm intends to file a class action against the group, in relation to payment shortfalls to employees. WOW over a month ago flagged a $200-$300m impact from remediation expenses.

Amaysim (AYS) is up 9 per cent after it completed the purchase of Jeenee Communications for $7.8m. Jeenee is a privately-owned mobile virtual network operator.

Plenty of data was released this morning, most of which fell short of economist hopes. This included figures on Australian manufacturing, building approvals, company profits and job advertisements. An exception was the strong lift in property prices. Capital city property prices rose by 2 per cent in November, the biggest lift since 2003. This was driven mainly by Sydney and Melbourne. In fact property prices in Sydney last month posted the biggest lift since October 1988.

1.6bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.1bn. 537 stocks are up, 504 down and 344 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec