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ASX morning report – Wednesday

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is expected to start trading down at first today, according to futures trading in Sydney. Here's everything investors like you need to know about the local market on Wednesday.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is expected to start trading down at first today, according to futures trading in Sydney. Here’s everything that investors like you need to know about the local market on Wednesday.

Pause for thought

The daily grind of volatile markets continued on Tuesday, as the ASX succumbed to aggressive rhetoric from the Chinese government on trade issues and a spike in infections in Asia hit improving confidence.

The FTSE, +0.9%, bucked the trend as Vodafone delivered strong numbers and maintained its dividend. However, US markets continued to weaken, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq down over 2% overnight — all 11 sectors fell. This came as inflation data indicated the 0.8% fall in April was the worst in over a decade. This will lead to a weak opening in Australia.

  • On a somewhat more positive tone, Morningstar released a report that some 70% of the funds they followed who have an ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance policy, had outperformed their peers amid the volatility — talk about active management!

    Feast and famine

    The divergence between corporate performance continues to increase, with consumer staples like Woolworths and technology companies like Logitech charging ahead on weaker days. The former released a new bond issue for 5 years at just 1.6% over the bank bill rate in a gamble that investors will remain desperate for income.

    Surveys of the banking sector, including the Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank, indicated that there has been a 35% reduction in branch visits in April, which does not bode well for property owners or similar businesses, including Flight Centre, who have large store networks at a time when consumers are moving online.

    Around the world

    Uber launched an aggressive takeover bid for its competitor Grub Hub (GRUB), sending the share price of the latter up 30%. After strong progress on its treatment for COVID-19 patients, Mesoblast is once again seeking to tap shareholders for more capital, many are wary of a company that has raised over $500 million in recent years but delivered nothing but losses (some $700 million).

    India’s largest airline, Indigo, is considering a bid for Virgin and Australian retailers like Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi are expected to benefit from NZ’s more aggressive reopening strategy. It doesn’t look great for Premier Investments, with global sales down 99% for the quarter, yet online sales increased by the same amount and management noted some 70% of stores are now coming up for lease, which could be devastating for shopping centre and retail landlords.

    Kogan (KGN) was another beneficiary of the move to online spending, reporting 139,000 new active customers, taking their total to 1.948 million and reporting a 100% increase in profit. Finally, Unibail Rodamco Westfield cut its interim distribution as did building products supplier CSR Limited despite reporting just a 6% fall in revenue.

    This report was written by Drew Meredith, Financial Adviser and Director of Wattle Partners.

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