ASX 200 (XJO) morning report – gold price hits record high

The S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is expected to edge higher at the open, following a positive lead from overseas markets. Here’s your ASX morning report.

Stock market recap

The ASX 200 delivered another gain on Monday, despite a weaker lead from overseas, adding 0.3%. The ASX materials sector was the key contributor as the gold price hit an all-time high in US dollar terms, closing at $1,944 per ounce, sending the AUD price above $2,730 once again. Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) was a key beneficiary, increasing 4.9%, with global investors of all types flocking to the precious metal as an alternative to traditional hedges like Government bonds.

Better than expected industrial profit growth in China, up 11.5% in June, offered a positive start for global markets. This was driven by the all-important steel sector, which purchases Australia’s iron ore, growing 35.3% in the month alone.

The US markets ended higher, the S&P 500 up 0.7% and Nasdaq 1.7%, due to a combination of slowing virus cases and the expectation that the Federal Reserve will announce an extension of near-zero rates this week. We are all waiting with bated breath for the beginning of earnings season tomorrow, including Apple, Amazon and Samsung.

Featured video: Australian property investing 101

Running to stand still

Australian investment manager, Perpetual (ASX: PPT) announced it had agreed to acquire Texas-based manager Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss for $465 million. The manager will raise $250 million in equity at $30.30 per share to fund the acquisition as it seeks to bolster its portfolio following $400 million in outflows in 2020 by adding another $41 billion in assets under management. An interesting decision in my view, with two value managers following the ‘bigger is better’ mantra as they seek to overcome the relentless march of passive ETFs and sustained outperformance of growth equities.

Estia Healthcare (ASX: EHE) fell 7.6% on the news that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission would effectively assume control of two Victorian centres infected with COVID-19. The facilities are now restricted from welcoming new residents and will be required to report to an independent adviser on a daily basis. The aged care sector is crying out for more capital and represents a unique opportunity for investors, yet it’s clear those listed on the ASX aren’t investable for the time being.

Is Lynas Corp making a recovery?

Healius (ASX: HLS), which recently finalised the sale of its Primary Care business to BGH Capital for some $470 million, offered a positive update to investors. The company reported it has been dealing with 16,000 COVID-19 tests each day and completing some 50% of all private testing in Victoria. With most lockdowns being loosened around the country, its pathology division has reported volumes just 5-10% below 2019 and forecast profit to be around $54-56 million, down from $71 million in the year prior.

Rare earths producer Lynas Corporation (ASX: LYC) was the leader for the day, up 12.0%, after announcing its contract with the US Department of Defense had commenced with scoping for its Rare Earth Separation Facility going ahead as the country seeks to reduce its reliance on the dominant Chinese suppliers.

Finally, Australian Foundation Investment Company (ASX: AFI) announced it would be dipping into retained profits to pay its final dividend after seeing profit fall 40% for the financial year.

This article 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.

Disclosure: Drew Meredith is the author of this post. He may maintain positions in the securities mentioned.

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