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The Australian sharemarket is a touch lower at midday, with the ASX 200 down ~0.2 per cent, following a weak lead from Wall Street, over 15 companies trading ex-dividend and most sectors in the red. However, the index has bounced off this morning’s low, partly thanks to gains from a number of banks. The ASX 200 was down by as much as 0.72 per cent on the open. In recent days, the market has mostly started slowly before finding some support and buying interest throughout the afternoon.

Should the market finish lower today, this would represent its first decline since last Thursday. While it has been a shaky start to September so far, over 50 companies have traded exdividend in just six days, which has acted as a weight on the local bourse. BHP, Fortescue (FMG), Woolworths (WOW) and CSL have all traded ex-dividend in recent days.

Macquarie Group (MQG) is surging by 5.6 per cent and is singlehandedly adding ~11pts to the ASX 200. This followed an update by the group, with the investment bank flagging half year profits to almost double (six months to September), when compared to a year earlier. It is attributing this to favourable market conditions, that have supported its Commodities & Global Markets business. MQG is expecting a ‘slight’ drop in earnings on the second half (six months to March 2021).

Aussie Broadband (ABB) has completed its $114m institutional placement to accelerate its growth strategy. ABB said it intends to use the proceeds to support growth by M&A, new business product and technology development, and/or further fibre and network build.

Over 15 companies are trading ex-dividend today, including Brambles (BXB), Medibank (MPL), Blackmores (BKL), Adairs (ADH), Shaver Shop (SSG), Accent (AX1) and Austal (ASB). While all the above are losing ground, some of the hardest hit include Adairs (ADH), which is down 5.4 per cent, Shaver Shop (SSG), which is sliding by 3.8 per cent, and AX1, which finds itself 3.6 per cent lower.

Commodity prices were mixed last night. Iron ore stood out with a 4.8 per cent lift; however, this comes after a 9.3 per cent tumble a day earlier. The iron ore price has fallen by more than 40 per cent from the mid-May high due mainly to concerns China is cutting steel production targets. Oil slipped by 1.4 per cent and gold fell by close to 2 per cent.

3.3bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $3.4bn. 567 stocks are up, 760 down and 389 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec