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

Lynas Corporation Ltd (ASX:LYC) and Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) shares are making a splash on the ASX 200 on Monday. Here’s why…

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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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