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5 things you need to know about the Australian sharemarket today

Welcome to Wednesday. 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 higher, up 0.2% at 5,669.9, despite moderate falls on Wall Street overnight and a host of stocks going ex-dividend. BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) are just two of the large caps going ex-dividend today. The S&P 500 lost 0.1%, while the Dow Jones fell 0.2%.
    As Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in the US told Bloomberg,

    “…after that strong rally we had through much of August, the market is taking a bit of a breather.”

  2. Iron ore stocks are again under the pump this morning, after the commodity price fell to a new low of US$86.70 a tonne overnight. That’s the lowest price since early September 2012, and further falls could see it hit five-year lows. Some analysts are forecasting a fall to US$75 a tonne in the second half of next year, thanks to a double squeeze of falling demand and rising supply.
    BC Iron Limited (ASX: BCI) had fallen 4.3%, Iron Ore Holdings Limited (ASX: IOH) was down 3.5%, while Arrium Limited (ASX: ARI) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX: AGO) were also big losers in early trade.
  3. While not exactly market related (yet) Medibank Private’s 4 million policyholders could receive special treatment when the government-owned health insurer floats on the ASX. The Australian Financial Review reports that policyholders may receive some incentive to buy shares, and provide strong support for the float.
  4. Tweet of the Day

    Something it seems many Australian property investors have forgotten or are ignoring.

  5. Stock of the Day – brought to you by Darryl Date-Shappard – APN News and Media Limited (ASX: APN).APN may spin off its New Zealand business into a new listing, worth more than $500 million. 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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