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The Australian sharemarket is having a mixed start to the week, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.64 per cent to 5,276.3 while being significantly held back by three of the big four banks at lunch. This follows a strong lead from Wall Street and SPI futures which were indicating a gain of ~1.5 per cent on the open this morning.

National Australia Bank (NAB) surprised the market by unexpectedly releasing its profit results a week and a half early, entering a trading halt, announcing a $3.5bn capital raising and significantly cutting its dividend to retain capital. It will pay a 30 cent per share dividend out to investors in July. This compares to last year’s 83 cent interim dividend. This news dragged Westpac (WBC) down 4.1 per cent and ANZ down by 3 per cent ahead of both their results over the next fortnight. ANZ is set to post its earnings this Thursday and WBC next Monday.

Aristocrat Leisure (ALL) announced the suspension of its interim dividend, together with plans to stand down ~1,000 of its staff from May 1 to the end of June 2020. Around 200 roles will be removed permanently from the business. ALL will make a 10-20 per cent cut to base salaries of around 1,500 staff. Fees payable to the ALL Board of Directors will be reduced by 20 per cent. The base salary of ALL CEO, Trevor Croker, will be reduced by 30 per cent.

The rest of the market is mostly holding up well. Industrials including Transurban, Sydney Airport, Brambles and CIMIC are lifting strongly. Building materials producers like James Hardie, Boral and Adelaide Brighton (ABC) are up by as much as 6 per cent. Tech stocks including Xero , Afterpay and Altium are all lifting by ~3 per cent, while the recently heavily sold off property trusts are also advancing.

CommSec’s State of the States report was released this morning. Victoria remains the best performing state thanks to GDP, retail spending and construction work done. However, it now shares top spot with Tasmania. TAS is in top spot for the first time in over a decade and has been helped by the state’s strong population growth.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange is closed today to observe ANZAC Day. The Australian market is trading normally.

This is set to be a busy week for company updates. Locally, WOW, COL, QAN, FMG, NCM, RRL, NST and SBM are all due to release numbers. America’s five largest companies are all due to post earnings (Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook). Boeing, MGM Resorts and Gilead are also due to post results. At the end of the week, Berkshire Hathaway will post its numbers. Warren Buffet is set to release his annual letter to shareholders. The group has released an annual letter to investors since 1977.

1.8bn shares have changed hands so far today, worth $2.4bn. 692 stocks are up, 331 are down and 321 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec