The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is tipped to rise at the open on Wednesday according to ASX futures. Here’s what’s making headlines.
ASX 200 recap
The ASX 200 fell 0.7% on Tuesday, giving back Monday’s gains on a weaker global lead. Mining, down 1.1%, and financials, down 1.2%, were the biggest detractors as valuations continue to bite.
BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) offered a quarterly production update with iron expanding 8% but all other commodities slowing production as COVID restrictions hit operations. Management has put the expansion of Olympic Dam on hold and continues to seek acquisition opportunities. This was a solid result for BHP and bodes well for the sustained dividend, with full-year guidance now in range. BHP shares finished the day 1.6% lower.
Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) released a first-quarter trading update and despite reporting core implant revenue was 6% down on 2019, the market reacted positively, gaining 2.3%. Despite being a high-quality business, Cochlear remains narrower than CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and hence faces a difficult period if elective surgery remains slow for an extended period.
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Afterpay moves into banking, Tabcorp feeling the brunt of lockdowns
The ASX BNPL sector, where Australia is truly a global leader, saw a flurry of news yesterday. Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) announced a deal that would allow Afterpay users to easily open Westpac savings accounts. The news sent Afterpay shares 4.4% higher and over $100, but the Westpac share price fell 1.4%.
The release of the RBA minutes was the biggest news of the day, highlighting that the bank would focus on actual not expected inflation. This is a huge change in central bank circles, but seemingly common sense to the rest of us. This effectively guarantees that rates will remain lower for at least the next few years, meaning bank net interest margins will remain under pressure.
Elsewhere, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (ASX: TAH) is feeling the brunt of the Victorian lockdowns as the Spring Racing Carnival nears. The group reported a 5.7% fall in revenue, driven by a 55% fall in spending as its Victorian network has been shuttered. This despite improving online betting and most major sport continuing as planned.
US markets provide positive lead for the ASX
Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq shrugged off more toing and froing on a stimulus package, with the deadline due today. They finished 0.5% and 0.4% higher respectively.
The news of the day was the US Justice Department’s decision to commence antitrust action against Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google Search business. They say the company is using its 90% market share to stifle competition. This has been a long time coming and something I will discuss in today’s Market Thinker’s series with Nick Griffin of Munro Partners. Alphabet stock finished over 1% higher despite the news.
Swiss investment bank UBS (SWX: UBSG) delivered its best quarterly result in a decade, profit increasing 92% to $2.6 billion, albeit off a low base. The result highlighted the huge difference between traditional loan and deposit banks, versus more active investment banks. Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) is due to report after the market closes.