ASX flat, tech surges on Afterpay results
28/10/2020 12:43 PM

Australia's share market improved to be trading almost even after a downbeat first hour from continued US worries about the coronavirus.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 2.9 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6048.1 at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 5.3 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 6252.5.

Information technology was leading the way, higher by 2.62 per cent, after good results from Afterpay.

Consumer staples was next best, up 1.62 per cent, helped by Coles reporting.

Materials, which includes the miners, was up 0.09 per cent, but financials was down 0.87 per cent.

Investors seem to have shaken off negativity from US markets, which closed lower on worries about rising virus infections and Washington's inability to deliver more aid to the economy.

Australia has recorded a 1.6 per cent spike in inflation for the September quarter, attributed to the end of the federal government's free child care package introduced for the coronavirus lockdown.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the cost of child care added 0.9 percentage points to CPI, and was the largest contributor.

It still left annual inflation at a meagre 0.7 per cent after declining 0.3 per cent in the year to June.

Meanwhile Melbourne restaurants, cafes, pubs and retail stores have opened their doors to customers after coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Some businesses welcomed customers in the early hours as Melburnians lapped up freedoms they had not enjoyed for months.

On the ASX, Afterpay rose 6.26 per cent to $101.99 after its first quarter update showed underlying sales improved by 115 per cent to $4.1 billion.

The vendor has nearly doubled its customers to 11.2 million since the first quarter of last year.

Online furniture trader Temple & Webster was higher by 9.48 per cent to $10.79.

Coles was higher by 2.35 per cent to $17.61 after reporting a 10 per cent increase on first quarter sales compared to the same period last year.

Supermarket comparable sales growth for the first four weeks of the second quarter was 6.4 per cent.

The miners were mixed. BHP lost 0.42 per cent to $34.79, Rio Tinto slipped by 0.33 per cent to $91.99 while Fortescue was better by 1.14 per cent to $16.39.

In banking, ANZ lost 1.53 per cent to $19.20, the Commonwealth fell 0.59 per cent to $68.34, NAB shed 0.83 per cent to $18.93 and Westpac was lower by 0.94 per cent to $18.38.

In the US earlier, stocks on Wall Street closed little changed. The Dow and S&P 500 dipped on disappointing earnings and little hope for a US coronavirus stimulus before the US presidential election next week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 221.37 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 27,464.01, the S&P 500 lost 10.23 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 3,390.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 72.41 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 11,431.35.

The Aussie dollar was buying 71.25 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.35 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.

ASX down 1.3pc, all sectors lower
27/10/2020 12:37 PM

Investors on the Australian share market have watched the indices fall to a three week low after US markets fell steeply on soaring coronavirus infections and doubts about economic stimulus.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 70 points, or 1.13 per cent, to 6085.6 at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.

The index fell steeply at the opening of trade, but reached its lowest point of the session just after 1100 AEDT, 6068.3.

The All Ordinaries was down by 76.7 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 6280.6.

The energy sector had the greatest decline, 2.48 per cent.

Information technology was not much better, down by 2.37 per cent.

Materials, which includes the miners, was 1.34 per cent lower, while financials dipped 0.8 per cent.

The US markets' fall came after the number of Americans in hospital with COVID-19 jumped to a two-month high.

The United States, Russia and France set daily records for coronavirus infections.

Despite the gloom overseas, the economic picture is much better in Australia.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index grew by a further 1.6 per cent to 99.7 points in the past week, the highest level since March.

The index has risen for eight straight week.

The result comes as economists expect the Reserve Bank will next month cut the cash rate, the three-year bond yield target and the term funding facility rate for banks from 0.25 per cent 0.10 per cent.

Meanwhile Victoria reported a second-straight day of no coronavirus deaths and cases, as retail workers prepared to re-open businesses from Wednesday.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank says two-thirds of clients have restarted loan repayments after deferrals were put in place at the height of the pandemic.

As of October 16, just 6,797 customer accounts worth about $2.5 billion had deferred repayments, down 63 per cent since August and down 69 per cent since May.

Shares were higher by 0.74 per cent to $6.72.

The big four were all lower by less than one per cent.

Blackmores is selling its Global Therapeutics business to fellow health products supplier McPherson's for $27 million.

Blackmores bought the therapeutics business in 2016 but management believe it is no longer a core brand.

Shares in Blackmores were higher by 4.21 per cent to $66.01.

Shares in McPherson's were no longer trading due to an impending share sale, but last traded for $2.47.

Building materials supplier Boral was up 3.69 per cent to $4.90 after agreeing to sell its 50 per cent share in USG Boral to Knauf for $US1.01 billion.

USG Boral is a joint venture between the two companies, and Boral's stake includes plasterboard-based businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Middle East.

Boral will make a profit before tax of $540 million from the sale.

In mining, BHP dropped 1.51 per cent to $35.19, Rio Tinto shed 1.57 per cent to $93.17 and Fortescue fell 2.22 per cent to $16.24.

Earlier in the US, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about COVID-19 relief legislation. She remains optimistic an agreement can be reached before the election, a Pelosi spokesman said.

That belief didn't help investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 650.19 points, or 2.29 per cent, to 27,685.38. The S&P 500 lost 64.42 points, or 1.86 per cent, to 3,400.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 189.35 points, or 1.64 per cent, to 11,358.94.

The Aussie dollar was buying 71.29 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 71.18 US cents at the close of trade on Monday.

ASX up 0.3pc, banks and miners lower
26/10/2020 12:43 PM

Investors on the Australian share market had modest gains to start the week, as slight falls in the banks and miners were offset by the rest of the market.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index rose early after markets in the US finished higher on Friday, where politicians continued to talk about economic stimulus prior to the November 3 election.

The ASX200 was higher by 19.8 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 6186.8 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.

The All Ordinaries was better by 20.2 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 6393.9.

Consumer staples and information technology were the top sectors, ahead by 1.29 and 1.19 per cent respectively.

The financial sector was lower by 0.04 per cent, while materials was down 0.24 per cent.

Treasury boss Steven Kennedy said he believed the Morrison government's response to the coronavirus pandemic should have a greater impact on the economy in a low interest environment.

Mr Kennedy told a Senate Estimates hearing the economic recovery is underway, but also warned unemployment could stay persistently higher than forecast.

Meanwhile Victoria has a clean daily coronavirus sheet for the first time in more than four months, with no deaths or new cases.

However people in the state continue to wait for further easing of restrictions, after the Andrews state government paused because of a virus outbreak in Melbourne's north.

On the ASX, Westpac warned of a $1.22 billion hit to earnings ahead of its full-year results next week.

The bank outlined a series of write-downs and revaluations of its operations including life insurance worth $816 million.

There was also the additional $404 million set aside from the $1.3 billion penalty Westpac will pay over breaches of money laundering and terror financing laws.

Shares were even at $18.78. Among major rivals, ANZ was up 0.25 per cent to $19.83, the Commonwealth was down 0.19 per cent to $69.76 and NAB lost 0.58 per cent to $19.41.

Coca-Cola Amatil was best of the highly valued companies and rose 15.02 per cent to $12.36 after Coca-Cola European Partners made an offer to buy the Aussie business.

The European business is offering $12.75 per share, and Amatil's directors expect to recommend shareholders accept.

Meanwhile in mining, BHP shed 0.33 per cent to $35.88, Rio Tinto was down 0.37 per cent to $95.04 and Fortescue was lower by 1.4 per cent to $16.48.

Coles and Woolworths were higher by less than one per cent each, helping consumer staples be the best performing sector.

In technology, Afterpay was up 2.25 per cent to $104.43.

The market darling's record price is $105.80.

The Aussie dollar was buying 71.28 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 71.07 US cents at the close of trade on Friday.