The ASX 200 was up 0.59% today after a flat start to the week.

Both US and EU stocks rose after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the central banks efforts to corral inflation before the Senate Banking Committee.

Powell says he expects high inflation to last “well into the middle of the year,” and the Fed could raise rates more over time if price pressures persist longer than expected.

The bank has made no decisions about shrinking its balance sheet, with Powell adding that “it’s a long road to normal” for monetary policy. He was also optimistic that supply-chain bottlenecks would ease this year to help bring down inflation.

By sector, ASX 200 Energy stocks were ahead of the pack, with the sector up 2.73% and Santos (ASX:STO) up 3.19% and Woodside (ASX:WPL) up 4.10%.

The IT and Comms sector also rose 1.98% and 1.55% respectively, with materials – the big miners – up 1.04%.



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Top of the large caps leader board was Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) who’s Kathleen Valley lithium deposit has secured a major offtaker in Korean electronics giant LG.

The project will produce around 500,000tpa of spodumene concentrate in its first stage, with LG set to buy 100,000dmt of spodumene in the first year of a five-year deal in 2024, rising to 150,000dmt per year for the remainder of the deal – which has an option for another five-year term.

“Having a customer of the calibre and standing of LGES endorse the project, by signing up to become a foundation customer, represents a significant vote of confidence in Kathleen Valley and in Liontown’s ambition to become a globally significant provider of battery materials for the clean energy market,” Managing director and CEO Tony Ottaviano said.

The deal represents around a third of Kathleen Valley’s start-up capacity, which is expected to increase to ~700,000tpa after a second stage expansion a few years after operations begin.

Also among the leaders was Afterpay (ASX:AKE) who secured approval from pesky Spanish regulators for its takeover by Jack Dorsey-led Block Inc.

The Scheme for the Block Inc transaction “is fully unconditional and will be implemented without the need for further shareholder or Court approval, in accordance with the implementation timetable”, APT said.

The scheme will be implemented on February 1, with the merged entity — which includes Block CDIs that will trade on the ASX — set to commence trading on February 2.



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