ASX 200 midday update: Westpac result impresses, AVZ halted

The ASX 200 is having a poor start to the week…

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At lunch on Monday, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has started the week as it finished the last. The benchmark index is currently down 1.3% to 7,100.8 points.

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

Westpac half-year result impresses

The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price is charging higher after the banking giant’s half-year earnings came in ahead of consensus estimates. Westpac reported an 8% decline in revenue to $10,230 million, a 12% reduction in cash earnings to $3,095 million, and a 61 cents per share interim dividend. The Visible Alpha consensus estimate was for first-half cash earnings of $2.8 billion, with an interim dividend of 59 cents per share. Westpac also reiterated its bold cost cutting target.

AVZ shares halted

The AVZ Minerals Ltd (ASX: AVZ) share price is missing out on the market selloff today after being placed in a trading halt. While it remains unclear exactly what the halt is for, it appears likely to be in relation to concerns over the company’s ownership of the Manono Lithium project. Uncertainty regarding this issue sent the AVZ share price crashing 21% lower last week.

Magellan shares tumble

The Magellan Financial Group Ltd (ASX: MFG) share price is tumbling on Monday. This follows broad market weakness and news that the company has offloaded its stake in Guzman y Gomez. The company has agreed to sell its 11.6% stake for $140 million, which represents a $34 million profit on its original investment. Magellan made the sale to focus on its core funds management business.

Best and worst ASX 200 performers

The best performer on the ASX 200 on Monday has been the Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd (ASX: DMP) share price with a 3% gain. At the end of last week, Citi reiterated its buy rating with a $108.42 price target on the pizza chain’s shares. The worst performer on Monday has been the News Corp (ASX: NWS) share price with a 10% decline. Investors have been selling this media giant’s shares since its third quarter update from last week disappointed the market.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has positions in Westpac Banking Corporation. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Dominos Pizza Enterprises Limited and Westpac Banking Corporation. 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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