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Thursday’s ASX 200 lunch time report

At lunch on Thursday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is on course to follow the lead of U.S. markets with a solid gain. At the time of writing the index is up almost 0.4% to 5,918.3 points.

While almost all sectors are pushing higher today, the standout performers have been the information technology and healthcare sectors.

Here are a few highlights on the ASX 200 on Thursday:

Corporate Travel Management responds to short seller.

The Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) share price has stormed higher after releasing its response to the second short seller report from VGI Partners. The market appears to have been pleased to see EY drafted in to assist with the response on this occasion. EY supported the corporate travel management’s response and suggested that VGI’s report was “superficial”.

REA Group first quarter update.

The REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) share price has climbed higher following the release of a strong first quarter update. The property listings company posted a 17% increase in quarterly revenue to $221.9 million and a 23% lift in EBITDA to $130.9 million. The strong growth in a weak environment was the result of positive product mix and strong sales operations.

Xero’s half year results.

Another result that caught the eye of investors today came from accounting software company Xero Limited (ASX: XRO). Its shares were up as much as 6% at one stage after advising that revenue climbed 37% to NZ$256.5 million during the first half. Xero also added 193,000 new subscribers, with all regions performing solidly. Its shares have since given back a good portion of their gains, possibly due to concerns over its widening half year net loss.

National Australia Bank’s shares drift lower.

The National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) share price has tumbled almost 4% lower today. The good news is that this isn’t to do with a new banking scandal or remediation action. Instead, it is due to the bank’s shares going ex-dividend this morning for its final 99 cents per share dividend. This dividend will be paid to eligible shareholders on December 14.

Best and worst performers on the ASX 200.

The Corporate Travel Management share price is the best performer on the ASX 200 today, but the Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) share price isn’t far behind with a 10% gain following a positive business update. Going the other way is the James Hardie Industries plc (ASX: JHX) share price which has tumbled 14% lower after its full year guidance fell short of expectations.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Corporate Travel Management Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO, National Australia Bank Limited, and Xero. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended REA Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.