ASX 200 (XJO) Thursday – what ASX investors need to know

The Australian share market, including the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) and All Ordinaries (ASX: XAO), is tipped to creep lower when the market opens on Thursday. Here’s what’s making headlines.

ASX share market recap

The ASX 200 followed the strong overseas lead to finish 1.1% higher for the day on Wednesday. Every sector delivered a solid return, with Information Technology, +2.4%, and Communications, +2.1%, leading the way.

Employment advertising monopoly, SEEK Limited (ASX: SEK) was one of the biggest contributors, rallying 9.4% after management was forced to comment on rumours sweeping the market overnight. According to reports, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Inc. (NYSE: BABA) is considering a strategic stake in SEEK’s Zhaopin subsidiary as it enters another phase of growth; reiterating SEEK’s position as a growth leader.

Meanwhile, value investors are once again flocking to Boral Limited (ASX: BLD) with Seven Group Holdings Ltd(ASX: SVW) angling for a board seat. Boral shares improved 2.9% as a number of activist investors continue advocating for a sale of the struggling US division along with the realisation of a number of well-located quarry properties. The company remains a rare pure-play exposure to the likely infrastructure boom post-COVID-19.

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Kogan delivers another record, AMP rumour mill in overdrive

QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE) is facing the first real test of its business insurance unit, with UK courts suggesting claims for COVID-19 related shutdowns may, in fact, be payable. QBE shares finished down 0.9% with the company announcing it would challenge the decision.

Retailers were led higher by Ltd (ASX: KGN), up 6.1%, after the e-commerce company announced profits doubled 2019 levels in August and customer growth hit another record, adding 152,000 new customers in the month alone.

The rumour mill around AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) has moved into overdrive, with reports suggesting JC Flowers, a US private equity player, is running the numbers on the company’s wealth management division after missing out on the sale of MLC.

Elsewhere, the Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price fell 5.2% following the Federal Government’s plan to build their own gas-fired power plant in Newcastle in an effort to streamline the full transition towards renewables.

Rates at zero until 2023, tech sell-off continues

The Federal Reserve buoyed markets with their announcement that interest rates will be held near zero until at least 2023. Chairman Powell also noted the economic recovery had been faster than expected but is now slowing and in desperate need of greater fiscal stimulus.

News that Oracle Inc’s (NASDAQ: ORCL) offer for Tik Tok may not pass muster with the White House sent the Nasdaq down 1.7% and the S&P 500 0.5%.

European markets finished 0.6% higher prior to the Fed decision with the return to normality post-pandemic evidenced by Zara owner Inditex (MC: ITX) reporting strong online trade, sending shares 8.1% higher.

Retail sales continued to increase in the US, albeit at a slower rate than expected, growing 0.6% in August. This was the first assessment post the stimulus checks, showing just how important they remain to get the economy to the other side.

Australian unemployment data is due at lunchtime today. Although economists are expecting an increase to 7.7%, I’d expect a little worse than that given the lack of additional business support measures announced thus far.

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.

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