ASX 200 midday update: Rio Tinto charges higher, IRESS rockets, Macquarie update

It has been a very busy but positive day for the ASX 200 on Thursday…

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At lunch on Thursday, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is on course to record a solid gain. The benchmark index is currently up 0.4% to 7,407.6 points.

Here’s what is happening on the ASX 200 today:

Market reacts positively to Rio Tinto half year update

The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price is storming higher today after the market responded positively to its half year results. The mining giant reported a 156% increase in underlying earnings to US$12.2 million and a 262% jump in its free cash flow to US$10,181 million. This allowed the Rio Tinto Board to declare a massive US$5.61 per share interim dividend. Strong demand and pricing drove the stellar growth.

IRESS shares jump on takeover approach

The IRESS Ltd (ASX: IRE) share price is rocketing higher today after confirming the receipt of another takeover approach earlier this month. The release explains that EQT Fund Management returned with a confidential, unsolicited, non-binding and indicative proposal to acquire IRESS via a scheme of arrangement at a price of between $15.30 and $15.50 cash per share. This represents a 22.3% to 23.9% premium to the IRESS share price at yesterday’s close. Last month IRESS rejected a $14.80 per share proposal.

Macquarie Q1 update

The Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) share price is trading largely flat at lunch after a solid first quarter update was offset by plans to lower its dividend payout ratio. Macquarie revealed that its operating businesses delivered a net profit that was significantly up on the first quarter of the prior corresponding period. However, the company intends to reduce its annual dividend payout policy range to 50% to 70%. This is to allow additional flexibility to support business growth and compares to its previous target range of 60% to 80%.

Best and worst ASX 200 performers

The best performer on the ASX 200 on Thursday has been the IRESS share price by some distance with a 12% gain. This follows the receipt of EQT’s takeover approach. The worst performer has been the Resolute Mining Limited (ASX: RSG) share price with a 7% decline following the release of a disappointing second quarter update. That update revealed weaker production and higher costs.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Macquarie Group Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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