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ASX 200 opens down 1%, here’s what you missed

The ASX 200 and All Ordinaries opened 1% lower on Thursday morning after overnight sell-offs across the board.

Tech stocks shine

The ASX200 finished marginally higher again on Wednesday, adding 0.2%, driven primarily by technology names including Afterpay and Xero after both reached all-time highs.

These gains will be reversed today as US markets tumbled heavily, down between 2% and 3%, as the resurgence in COVID-19 cases continued to grow. This must be investors’ worst nightmare.

Every sector fell with the most exposed being financials, energy and industrials, which dropped over 3%. As expected, cruise and travel companies were among the hardest hit, falling in excess of 10%. Exacerbating the volatility was another White House announcement of potential tariffs on as much as $3.1 billion in imports from Europe, resulting in both the FTSE 100 and Eurostoxx 50 falling in excess of 3%.

One of the more unique movements in recent weeks has been the strength in the price of gold, hitting an eight-year high of USD$1,775. The gold price typically doesn’t rally when equities markets are rising, suggesting it may continue to oscillate for the foreseeable future.

AMP’s dividend turnaround

As highlighted on Wednesday, AMP saw its insurance sale approved for $2.5 billion. With only half of this amount earmarked for other purposes, I’m expecting a potential return of its dividend in 2020. AMP stock fell 2.9%.

TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison finally saw their merger approved by shareholders and the court, sending both higher, but the latter up over 6%.

Across the boards, the Virgin Australia debacle appears to be coming to a head, with suffering bondholders lobbing a last-minute proposal to recapitalise the company and convert their investment into equity. This group of investors stands to lose up to 65% of their investment in a private equity takeover, but only 30% if the debt is simply converted into equity. The events are giving Australian investors a first-hand insight into the powerful ‘bankruptcy’ or administration process — always back self-interest.

ASX news from Wednesday

Mirvac Group became the latest to devalue their property portfolio, with primarily retail assets reduced by 10% for a total of $306 million. On the anecdotal evidence I’m seeing, including empty stores, limited sales and massive e-commerce improvements, 10% is only the tip of the iceberg. I’d be avoiding any exposure to retail or office property for the time being.

Sonic Healthcare was the latest health company to buck the market trend, adding 4.7% after suggesting profit will be flat on its 2019 result and not down; an incredible result in the circumstances.

It was a difficult day for Freedom Foods Group with management announcing an internal investigation at the same time the CEO went on leave unexpectedly. This once again shows the difficulty for agricultural companies trading on listed markets.

If there is one takeaway for readers in another busy week, it is that knowing the company you own is becoming more important than ever with the difference between the good and bad likely to be wide as we enter the reporting season.

This report was written by Drew Meredith, Financial Adviser and Director of Wattle Partners. To get in contact with Drew, click here to visit the Wattle Partners website.

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