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ASX 200 lunch update: NAB lower, Sonic & Saracen higher

At lunch on Friday the S&P/ASX 200 index is on course to end the week with another day in the red. At the time of writing the benchmark index is down a disappointing 1.5% to 6,301 points.

Here’s what has been happening on the market today:

Bank shares sink lower.

Australia’s big four banks have sunk notably lower and are weighing heavily on the ASX 200 index on Friday. All the banks are down by at least 2% at lunch, with the National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) share price the worst performer in the group. Its shares are down by a sizeable 3.5% at lunch. Concerns over a potential spike in bad loans is weighing on the big four.

Sonic Healthcare upgraded.

The Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) share price is pushing higher today despite the broad market weakness. This has been driven by a positive broker note out of Citi which reveals that its analysts have upgraded its shares to a buy rating with a $33.75 price target. The broker likes Sonic due to its stability and organic growth prospects. It also believes Sonic has the balance sheet capacity to boost its growth with acquisitions.

Gold miners surge higher.

With the S&P/ASX 200 index and global markets sinking lower, demand for safe haven assets has been increasing materially. This led to a strong rise in the gold price overnight, which has given gold miners such as Regis Resources Limited (ASX: RRL) and Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX: SAR) a big boost on Friday. This has sent the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Gold index racing 3.1% higher today.

Best and worst performers.

The best performer on the ASX 200 at lunch is the Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX: CUV) share price with a gain of over 4.5%. This appears to be down to bargain hunters swooping in after a very heavy decline over the last couple of weeks. The worst performer on the index is the oOh!Media Ltd (ASX: OML) share price with an 8% decline. A number of media and advertising companies are trading notably lower today.

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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 National Australia Bank Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended oOh!Media Ltd and Sonic Healthcare 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.