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ASX 200 up 0.25%: Lynas rockets on U.S. deal, gold miners surge, bank shares tumble

At lunch on Monday the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is on course to start the week with a decent gain. The benchmark index is currently up 0.25% to 6,038.2 points.

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

Lynas signs contract with U.S. Department of Defense.

The Lynas Corporation Ltd (ASX: LYC) share price is rocketing higher on Monday after it announced a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. According to the announcement, the contract will see Lynas complete a detailed market and strategy study plus detailed planning and design work for the construction of a Heavy Rare Earth separation facility. There were doubts that Lynas would get the contract after some officials opposed the contract going to a foreign company.

Bank shares sink lower.

The big four banks have come under pressure and are acting as a drag on the ASX 200 index. All of the big four banks are dropping notably lower, but the Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) share price is the worst performer with a 0.7% decline. Concerns over the spike in coronavirus cases appears to be weighing on investor sentiment.

Gold miners charge higher.

It has been a great day of trade for gold miners such as Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST). Investors have been buying gold mining shares after the gold price broke through the US$1,900 an ounce level and hit a record high. The catalyst for this was concerns over rising tensions between the United States and China. The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Gold index is up 3.8% at lunch.

Best and worst ASX 200 performers.

The best performer on the ASX 200 at lunch is the Lynas share price by some distance. It is up 12% after announcing its U.S. contract. The worst performer has been the Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) share price with a 4% decline. This morning analysts at Macquarie retained their neutral rating but cut the price target on the insurance giant’s shares to $5.50. This follows the release of its FY 2020 update and dividend cancellation last week.

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