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ASX higher, Australian Super on the prowl

Daily Market Update

ASX higher, Australian Super on the prowl, IPOs sink
The ASX 200 managed to deliver another positive day in what has become an incredible end to the year. 
Yet the story changes on a weekly basis, with last week’s winners becoming this week’s losers. 
Today it was the consumer staples, +1.1%, and healthcare, +0.8%, sectors pushing the market higher with Woolworths (ASX:WOW) benefitting from Metcash Ltd’s (ASX:MTS) strong update yesterday. 
As flagged in this column, corporate activity continues to accelerate with Australian Super once again on the prowl, announcing a full takeover offer for New Zealand renewable energy and data centre provider Infratil (ASX:IFT) at NZ$7.43; a 39% premium to the last traded price. 
The deal seems complex but continues the trend of huge Australian pension funds blurring the lines between ‘private’ and public markets like the ASX through which the fund can exert control. 
IFT owns assets including Wellington Airport and telecommunications company Vodafone with several part owned by the Commonwealth Super Corporation and the Future Fund; shares finished 21% higher.
Underpayment highlights ESG concerns at G8 Education (ASX:GEM), coal port on the nose, Adairs (ASX:ADH) upgrades guidance
Childcare centre operator G8 Education (ASX:GEM) slumped 6.6% despite announcing a significant improvement in occupancy levels to 75.5% of their total. 
The company which cares for as many as 58,000 children across the country flagged a significant underpayment of staff, from $50 to $80 million that will require remediation or repayment. 
Interestingly, the company reported ‘wage efficiencies’ as a key contributor to their expected $98 million in earnings. 
Linen and bedding seller Adairs (ASX:ADH) was one of the leaders, jumping 2.8% after flagging a 300% increase in earnings for the half year to $66 million. 
Same store sales for the first 23 weeks of the financial year increased 17.3% but it was the higher margin online sales driving the recovery, up 99.7% for the financial year to date. 
It was clearly an interesting time for the listing of the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (ASX:DBI) which fell 16% on its first day of trading despite the attractive 7% yield on offer.
US markets higher, world first Australian law, first vaccine deployed in the UK
Global markets continued their positive run, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both finishing higher overnight, 0.3% respectively. 
The strength continued after the UK Government began its deployment of the AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) vaccine and ahead of what many expect to be the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to offer emergency use authorisation to the one produced by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). 
Whilst efficacy in combatting the virus has been strong there remain question over whether the drugs can stop it’s spread suggesting it may take some time for a return to normal. 
The Australian Government is set to pass world first laws this week requiring tech giants Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to ‘pay their way’ for journalistic content on their newsfeeds.
The sheer dominance in these businesses is reflected in their share of online advertising spend, with Google attracting $53 and Facebook $28 of every $100 spent. 
Sticking with digital media, game designer Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) reported that its latest ‘World of Warcraft‘ game sold 3.7 million units in a single day, the fastest selling PC game ever. 
Looking ahead, the week sees the long awaited float of Airbnb and judgement day for the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU.

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