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The Australian sharemarket has kicked off the new trading week in choppy fashion, with the ASX 200 up by 0.13 per cent to 6,716.8. The index initially opened lower for a fourth straight session, only to rise by as much as 0.46 per cent at ~11:50am AEDT and is now running out of steam at lunch. This follows a mixed end to the week for US equities and commodity prices.

Crown (CWN) is up by 17.5 per cent after receiving a takeover offer of A$11.85 per share from Blackstone. This offer is a 20 per cent premium to CWN’s closing price on Friday and is still subject to a number of conditions. This includes due diligence, financing and backing from the CWN Board. Blackstone currently owns 9.99 per cent of the casino operator. Competitor The Star Entertainment Group (SGR) is up 3.5 per cent.

Miners are weighing on the local market following a 3.5 per cent decline in the iron ore price. A major steelmaking city in China (Tangshan) recently announced plans to limit production until the end of 2021 in a bid to reduce pollution. Tangshan is estimated to account for ~14 per cent of China’s steel production. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is down 5.25 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is down 2 per cent and the more diversified BHP is sliding by 1.5 per cent.

Insurers are mostly lower by ~2 per cent. This includes IAG, Suncorp (SUN) and QBE. IAG said it has already received over 2,100 claims at 8pm Sunday covering mainly property damage relating to the heavy rain in northern NSW and south east QLD. IAG – which operates through NRMA insurance, CGU Insurance, WFI Insurance and Coles Insurance in the affected areas – said it is still too early to accurately determine the net cost to the group.

Energy companies are bouncing back from a challenging end to last week, thanks to oil prices lifting by 2.4 per cent. A spike in COVID infections in parts of Europe have created concerns of reduced oil demand. France has entered a partial lockdown following ~30,000 cases being identified daily.

Telstra (TLS) has provided further details around its restructure which it expects to complete by December. This includes the establishment of a new holding company for the Telstra Group and the creation of separate subsidiaries. TLS said that once the restructure is completed, shareholders will own shares in the new holding company on a like-for-like basis with no change to their ownership levels.

Blackmores (BKL) and NRW Holdings (NWH) are both exdividend today. Around $12bn is set to be paid in dividends this week, making it one of the busiest weeks of the year for distributions. Fortescue (FMG), BHP and Telstra (TLS) are the three biggest dividend payers.

3.5bn shares have changed hands so far worth $2.5bn, with 609 stocks lifting, 670 in the red and 374 treading water.

Published by CommSec