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Monday’s ASX 200 lunch time report

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has had a mixed start to the week and is flat at 5,604.6 points at lunch after declines in the energy and financial sectors offset solid gains in the materials and industrials sectors.

Here is what has been happening on the ASX 200 so far today:

BHP special dividend.

The BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price has pushed higher today after the mining giant announced details of its special dividend. According to the release, after successfully completing a US$5.2 billion off-market buy back, BHP will pay a US$1.02 per share special dividend to shareholders in January.

Austal shares higher on export opportunity.

The Austal Limited (ASX: ASB) share price is up 3% at lunch after advising that the Commonwealth of Australia, through the Defence Export Facility, has made available a loan facility of up to A$80 million to support the acquisition of two Cape Class Patrol Boats. The facility will be made available to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago to assist it in purchasing the vessels from Austal.

Bank shares continue to tumble.

Australian bank shares such as Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) have acted as drags on the ASX 200 on Monday after tumbling notably lower. Investors have been selling shares after the RBNZ proposed additional capital requirements for New Zealand banks.

Mineral Resources higher.

The Mineral Resources Limited (ASX: MIN) share price is up almost 6% to $15.14 at lunch. After the market closed on Friday Mineral Resources advised that it has entered into a binding asset sale and share subscription agreement with Albemarle in relation to the sale of a 50% interest in its Wodgina lithium project and the formation of a 50:50 joint venture.

Best and worst performers.

Mineral Resources is the best performer on the ASX 200 at lunch, closely followed by the Orica Ltd (ASX: ORI) share price with its 3% gain. Going the other way is the Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ASX: API) share price which has fallen over 4.5%. The pharmacy chain operator and distributor’s shares rose strongly on Friday after proposing a merger with Sigma Healthcare Ltd (ASX: SIG).

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of National Australia Bank 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.

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