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The Aussie market is higher for a fifth consecutive session to start the new week. The ASX 200 is adding 24 points or 0.34% to 7,087 around midday as the benchmark index nears the all-time highs hit in February last year, currently ~1.6% away from the high of 7,197. The broader All Ords is now trading at record levels for a third day in a row. US markets also traded at record high levels.

Winners are outweighing losers by some margin with seven sectors higher and four sectors in decline. Leading improvements are materials, financials and utilities while energy is falling most along with IT and communications.

In company news, Sims Limited (SGM) is the most improved stock on the ASX 200 index, jumping 9.4%
following a FY21 trading and earnings guidance update. The metal recycling company expects FY21 underlying EBIT between $260 and $310 million, compared to a loss in FY20 of 57.9 million. SGM also announced it will be paying back $7.5 million in Jobkeeper payments received in FY21.

Lithium miners Galaxy Resources (GXY) and Orocobre (ORE) are both firmer on a proposed $4 billion merger of equals between the two companies, which would create the fifth largest global lithium chemicals company. According to the scheme, ORE sahreholders will own 54.2% of the new entity with GXY shareholders owning the remaining 45.8%. ORE shares are up 3.1% while GXY lifts 1.7%.

Crown Resorts (CWN) is 0.4% higher after the casino operator received an offer from Oaktree Capital
Management to facilitate a buy-back of CWN shares owned by James Packer’s investment firm, Consolidated Press Holdings, which holds a ~37% in CWN. Oaktree is looking to provide up to $3 billion in funding.

Elsewhere, Seven Group Holdings (SVW) is in a trading halt as it looks to raise $500 million via an equity raising. Funds will be used to reduce debt and increase balance sheet flexibility to support growth initiatives. SVW recently increased its stake in Boral (BLD) to 22.98%.

The Aussie dollar has had little local economic data to go off this morning but continues to trade north of 77 US cents at 77.28 US cents.

Published by CommSec