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5 things you need to know about the Australian sharemarket today

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

  1. The S&P/ ASX 200(Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has opened 0.3% this morning, despite mixed results on Wall Street overnight.The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1% while the broader S&P 500 was flat and the tech-heavy NASDAQ gained 0.1%.

    Crude oil prices dropped dramatically overnight, with Brent oil falling 5.1% to US$59.36 per barrel while iron ore was up 0.7% to US$63.44 per tonne.

    The Australian dollar is steady against the US dollar and is currently buying 78.2 US cents.

  2. Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) has reported a 3.7% fall in first-half net profit to $1.4 billion – although the previous period included $158 million in profit from the insurance and Air Liquide divisions which were sold off. The conglomerate increased its dividend to 89 cents, fully franked – up from 85 cents the previous year.Wesfarmers shares are down 1.5% at the open.
  3. Diversified financial services group AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) has lifted its dividend by 17% after full year underlying net profit rose 23% to more than $1 billion. AMP offers services from wealth management, insurance to banking and loans.AMP will pay a final partly franked (80%) dividend of 13.5 cents, and investors obviously liked what they saw with shares were up 3.7% at the open.
  4. Tweet of the Day


    With a wall of international money looking for higher returns, the ASX could surge through the 6,.000 level as early as this month.

  5. Stock of the Day– brought to you by Ryan Newman – Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL). The giant private health insurer reports tomorrow. Here’s what you can expect.

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Scott just revealed what he believes are the five best ASX stocks for investors to buy right now. These stocks are trading at dirt-cheap prices and Scott thinks they are great buys right now.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Medibank Private. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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