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Local shares have started the new week on a positive note with the ASX 200 lifting 62 points or 1% to 6,238 and continues to test fresh 7-month highs for the benchmark index. The bright start overcomes some weakness locally on Friday and a mixed lead from Wall Street over the weekend.

The improvements at lunch have been rather widespread with nearly every sector advancing in the first few hours of trade. The healthcare and IT sectors are experiencing the biggest percentage increases while the heavyweight financials and materials are also helping lift the broader market. The only sector in decline is the property sector.

Biotech giant CSL Limited (CSL) is the biggest contributor to the market gains with the stock lifting 2.2%. CSL will be providing a Research & Development investor briefing tomorrow at 9am AEDT. The big 4 banks are lifting up to 1% each with Commonwealth Bank (CBA) leading the way. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is among the best of the major miners gaining 2%. South32 (S32) is 4% higher on the back of a September quarterly report. S32 has maintained its FY21 production guidance for all its operations.

Crown Resorts (CWN) is one of the worst performers to start the new week with the gaming company facing further regulatory investigation from financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC in relation to potential compliance breaches of the AML/CTF Act at its Melbourne casino. CWN shares have dropped as much 9% and hit the lowest levels in six months.

In other company news, CIMIC (CIM) is 5.3% higher after agreeing to sell a 50% stake in its mining services provider Thiess to a UK group Elliot for cash proceeds of $1.7-$1.9 billion. The transaction values Thiess at $4.3 billion.

Ampol (ALD) is lifting 0.7% with the company providing an unaudited report for the September quarter. Fuel & Infrastructure (excluding Lytton) earnings were weaker than June Qtr numbers on weak volumes and market conditions due to COVID-19 but retail fuel margins at convenience stores were supportive of the business.

The AUD is buying 71.02 US cents with no major economic data due today. So far, 2.8b units have traded worth $1.9b with 687 stocks higher, 474 lower and 368 unchanged.

Published by CommSec