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Aussie shares have faded from a better start with the ASX 200 flat at lunch after four consecutive sessions of falls. The local market has surged by around 15 per cent since Christmas however after hitting a six-month high last week and is perhaps seeking a positive catalyst to move higher.
Last night US stocks improved for a third day and hit fivemonth highs thanks to better than expected economic data and a more subdued session from plane maker Boeing. Boeing finished slightly firmer despite being down more than 3 per cent after President Trump ordered the temporary grounding of its 737 MAX-8 and MAX-9 fleet due to safety concerns. 157 passengers were killed following an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday. Boeing shares have slumped by 11 per cent so far this week as the MAX-8 is its biggest earner.
UK MPs voted not to leave the European Union (EU) without a divorce deal at 6am AEDT this morning. This was the anticipated outcome and sets up the House of Commons for a vote tomorrow morning. MPs will decide on an extension to negotiations past the 29 March deadline. All 27 EU governments would need to agree to an extension.
Locally, gains from mining and energy stocks are helping offset losses from the big banks, consumer discretionaries and utilities. (KGN) is up 7 per cent after announcing the launch of a Kogan marketplace; a platform which allows retailers to sell directly through its platform a la eBay or Amazon. KGN has improved by 12 per cent so far this year.
Stockland (SGP) has old two properties in Brisbane for $143m to private investors (a shopping mall and commercial centre). SGP said this is part of its strategy to sell its non-core assets (buildings that are not major earners for the property group).
Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has decided to suspend the demerger of its wealth management and mortgage broking businesses. The bank will prioritise its continued response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
 A number of stocks are ex-dividend today including Spark (SPK), Air New Zealand (AIZ) and G8 Education (GEM). Shares in all three are under pressure.
 Economists await data on China’s economy including retail sales, production and investment. This is likely to receive plenty of attention considering recent signs of softer trade and the expectation of slower growth.
963.8m shares have changed hands so far worth $1.8bn. 530 stocks are up, 436 down and 354 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec