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The local market is barely hanging onto gains at lunch, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.05 per cent to 6,017.5. On the open, the local market was up by as much as 1 per cent, which was easily enough to recoup Monday’s 0.7 per cent decline. The ASX 200 remains above 6,000pts for a fourth day, is within striking distance of last Friday’s three-week high and is higher for a fifth time in six days.

US stocks extended their winning streak to five days, with the S&P 500 lifting by 1.6 per cent on some better services sector economic data following the Independence Day long weekend. China’s sharemarket is up by 14 per cent in just 5 days and has been accompanied by significant trading volume.

This afternoon, the Reserve Bank is widely expected to keep the cash rate steady at 0.25 per cent. While there is unlikely to be any changes in policy settings, the RBA’s accompanying one-page statement (available on the central bank’s homepage at 2:30pm AEST) will be read carefully by economists and analysts. Any changes in tone could impact currencies.

Gains from mining stocks like Fortescue Metals (FMG), BHP, Rio Tinto (RIO), Newcrest (NCM) and St Barbara (SBM) are helping keep the market slightly positive at lunch. Tech stocks, telcos and some financials are also helping (QBE, MFG, NWL and AEF).

Afterpay (APT) has entered a trading halt this morning following some key announcements by the buy-now-pay-later company (BNPL). APT will be raising ~$800m from investors in coming days to accelerate its international growth. Its co-founders are selling 10 per cent of their shares in the group, which is around ~4.1m shares (approximately $280m worth based on Monday’s closing price) and ~1.5 per cent of total shares in the group. The co-founders will still own around 14 per cent of the company. APT also accompanied that announcement with a trading update, saying it has 9.9m active customers, 5.6m in the US and 1m in the UK. It aims to expand into Canada and rollout in-store (currently online) in the US in coming months.

Sezzle (SZL) is up 14 per cent after the BNPL group posted a 349 per cent lift in quarterly sales to A$272.3m. It now has 1.48m active customers (up 243 per cent on last year). SZL is focused on the US and Canadian markets.

Infigen (IFN) is up 0.3 per cent as the Foreign Investment Review Board has granted approval for its takeover by Spanish group, Iberdrola.

Downer (DOW) has been awarded South Australian roa maintenance contracts worth ~$420m over a maximum term of 13 years. The contract begins 2 November with an initial 7-year term.

2.7bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $2.4bn. 596 stocks are up, 497 down and 348 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec