5 things you need to know about the Australian sharemarket today

Welcome to the start of a new week and the first day of spring. 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) has opened up 0.4%, following global equity markets, which rose on Friday. The US S&P 500 index set a new closing high, ending above the 2,000 mark for the third time. It was the index’s fourth straight week of gains.
    The Dow Jones was up 0.1%, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ posted gains of 0.5%.A number of economic data releases today could sway the market, including China Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) – given China is our largest trading partner.
  2. Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings (ASX: SVW) has purchased a $100 million stake in Woodside Petroelum Limited (ASX: WPL), according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR). Interestingly, Seven Group’s CEO Don Voelte was previously head of Woodside, so it’s a company he knows well.
    This is not a precursor to a takeover according to Seven – which uses its investment portfolio to buy stocks that pay high fully-franked dividend yields, offsetting the company’s overall tax rate.

    Not a bad strategy in my book.

  3. Pilbara iron ore miner Atlas Iron Limited (ASX: AGO) has been pointed out as a possible takeover target. The AFR suggests several suitors are circling the miner, which is likely to be close to breakeven or losing money with the iron ore price below US$90 a tonne.The interesting question is; who are the suitors? Are the big miners, Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) or BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) running their eye over Atlas, or could it be Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX: MGX) with its huge cash balance?
  4. Tweet of the Day

    Coal miners are in a world of pain right now, with no end in sight.

  5. Stock of the Day – brought to you by Darryl Date-Shappard – Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX: SRX). Darryl says successful results from current clinical trials could be enormously positive for the stock.

Sirtex might be expensive at today's prices if the clinical trials prove negative. However, we know a business that's already developed some strong brand power, pays a big dividend and looks set for a bright future.

If you want to read all about our top dividend stock for the year ahead just click here to download your free copy of "The Motley Fool's Top Dividend Stock for 2014-2015"today.

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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