5 things you need to know about the Australian sharemarket today

Welcome to Friday. Here are the five things I’m looking at today on the Australian sharemarket.

  1. The S&P/ ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is roughly flat – maybe its exhaustion after the intense last four weeks of company reporting. Good thing it’s the weekend, so we can all come back on Monday refreshed.
  2. National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) has announced that it is selling off its US business Great Western Bank, in a deal that could be worth as much as $2 billion to the bank. NAB shares have jumped more than 1% in lunchtime trading as a result.Analysts have suggested the move means new CEO Andrew Thorburn has signalled his intent to deal with legacy offshore assets. Shareholders will be hoping NAB manages to find a buyer for its UK assets including Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.
  3. Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (ASX: VAH) boss John Borghetti has upstaged his larger counterpart Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) after announcing that the airline is selling off 35% of its Velocity frequent flyer program to Affinity Equity Partners. Qantas has spent several months looking at a similar option for its own program, before giving up and deciding to keep 100% of it in house.
    Virgin says the deal values its Velocity business at $960 million, and will increase its cash balance by $336 million.
    The airline’s shares were up 1.2% at 41 cents.
  4. Tweet of the Day

    “Look out above!”

  5. Stock of the Day – brought to you by Tim McArthur – Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG).
    Australia’s franchise king now has 1,417 outlets under various brands, and is acquiring two more franchises. You can read more here.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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