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ASX update; COVID-19 impacting Macquarie Group


Vaccine trial restart boosts markets, ASX strength to continue, COVID-19 impacting Macquarie Group

A positive lead from Wall Street and news that AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) had resumed their vaccine trial sent the ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) 0.7% higher on Monday. Positive news on the vaccine front support the energy and industrial sectors amid hope of a faster return to normal.

The biggest detractor was Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG) retreating 4.6% after providing a first quarter update and guiding to a 35% fall in first half earnings.

The fall is driven by two factors, the first being the company’s strong performance in 2019 making comparisons difficult and the second a general slowdown in transactional activity including IPO’s and major asset sales.

  • Management refused to offer guidance for FY21 citing the growing uncertainty surrounding the economic recovery. Viva Energy Ltd (ASX:VEA) appears to have staved off the closure of its Geelong refinery after a Federal Government announcing support for the sector, including minimum stockpiles and import duties; shares finished 5.6% higher.

    Another big move for Qube Holdings Ltd (ASX:QUB), governance in focus in the waste sector, PEP enters the Citadel

    The Australian newspaper reported that industrial property investor, Logos Group, had entered the bidding war for a portion of the $2 billion Moorebank Logistics terminal from Qube Holdings Ltd (ASX:QUB).

    The industrial property sector continues to outperform as large companies like Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) seek well located warehouses in an effort to streamline their supply chains post-COVID.

    The company remains a unique recovery play for our export markets. Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd (ASX:CWY) was forced to respond to reports that its CEO engaged in ‘overly-assertive’ behaviour with staff during the pandemic, hitting shares to the tune of 7.2%.

    Despite the change, the company is well positioned to continue growing market share in this defensive and highly profitable sector. PEP lobbed a $503 million takeover bid for software and data analytics firm Citadel Group Ltd (ASX:CGL), sending shares up over 40%.

    Is this the start of another rally, M&A heats up, Europe continues to lag

    The US market recovery after two weeks of losses continues to gain traction, with the S&P 500 finishing 1.6% higher and the Nasdaq rebounding 1.9% after recent underperformance.

    It was a combination of acquisition activity and a bullish statement from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) CEO suggesting a vaccine will be ready before the end of 2020, that sent markets higher.

    Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) jumped 7.9% after reports that it had beaten off Microsoft Inc. (NASDAQ:MSFT) for the right to purchase Tik Toks US operations. The software company is seeking a data edge from the acquisition.

    Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) announced the $21 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Immunomedics with the COVID-19 market offering a solid hunting ground for larger companies with capital to deploy.

    European markets continue to lag, the Euro Stoxx down 0.6%, as investors fret about a no deal Brexit and spiking COVID-19 cases heightens the risk of a second wave of lockdowns.

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