Here are the stories from the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO)(^AXJO) and Australian finance circles today.

The ASX 200 is expected to open higher, according to futures trading in Sydney, after a 2.3% fall yesterday.

First, here are the data points:

Australian Dollar ($A) (AUDUSD): 71.88 US cents

Dow Jones (DJI): up 0.14%

Oil (WTI): $US50.82 per barrel

Gold: $US1,249 per ounce

ASX 200 News

In sharemarket news today, QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE) provided the market with a trading update as part of its “portfolio simplification” and efficiency initiatives.

QBE said it has sold its insurance operations in Puerto Rico, Indonesia and the Phillippines. In addition, QBE has completed its 2019 reinsurance program and plans to save $130 million in net costs over the next three years.

“We have a clear set of initiatives to achieve the targeted efficiency outcomes and, most importantly, to ensure that our people are engaged, accountable and will be measured on their performance,” the insurer’s market update read.

Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD) announced it will pay a dividend/distribution of 19 cents per share on February 14th, 2019.

South Australian gold mining and defence technology business Codan Limited (ASX: CDA) updated the market as part of a CEO Connect announcement saying it has had a “strong” start to its 2019 financial year. Radio Communications sales will exceed the first half from last year and metal detection sales are robust.

Codan expects net profit to come in between $20 million and $22 million for the first half of 2019.

Construction company Cimic Group (ASX: CIM) revealed its subsidiaries have been selected by Taswater as the preferred contractor to deliver water and wastewater infrastructure in Tasmania. The programs are expected to offer Cimic more than $600 million in revenue over four years.

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Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is limited to general financial/investment advice only. The information has not taken into account your specific needs, goals or objectives, so please consider consulting a licenced and trusted adviser before acting on the information. Please read The Rask Group’s Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information. This article is authorised by Owen Raszkiewicz of The Rask Group, which is a corporate authorised representative No. 1264179 of Strawman Pty Ltd (ACN: 610 908 211) (AFSL: 501 223).