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Monday afternoon market update

Despite having shown signs of a recovery on Friday where it climbed 35.9 points, the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has shed 25 points or 0.5% ahead of a number of important events this week, including the federal government’s mid-year economic and fiscal update, the RBA minutes and the US Federal Reserve’s meeting.

QBE Insurance (ASX: QBE) has again acted as a drag on the market, down a further 2.3% today, following a disastrous week which saw its shares plunge 31.4%. The big four banks have also failed to provide any relief, with Westpac (ASX: WBC), Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) and NAB (ASX: NAB) all trading in the red, down between 0.4% and 0.7%. ANZ (ASX: ANZ) is the only one to have recognised a gain, trading up 0.5%.

The losses have extended to other blue chips including rivals BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO), Westfield Group (ASX: WDC), Woolworths (ASX: WOW) and CSL (ASX: CSL), which are each down between 0.4% and 1.4%.

The biggest loser for the day has been diversified energy group Senex (ASX: SXY). Its shares have plunged 8.2% after AWE Limited (ASX: AWE) advised that it would not engage with Senex’s merger proposal.

AWE shareholders rejoiced in the decision, sending shares soaring 6.8%. Other big winners for the day have included UGL (ASX: UGL), Monadelphous (ASX: MND), Boart Longyear (ASX: BLY) and WorleyParsons (ASX: WOR), which are up 8.4%, 7%, 6.6% and 6.2%, respectively.

Foolish takeaway

Whilst the share market has caused investors pain over the last month and a half, we could be in for some relief in the near-future as dividend payments hit shareholders’ bank accounts this week, which could lead to a pre-Christmas bounce.

As such, investors may want to take advantage of quality companies trading at discounted prices while they can.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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