The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is tipped to rise at the open on Friday according to the latest SPI futures. Here’s what you need to know.
ASX 200 charges higher
The ASX 200 delivered another strong day on Thursday as it became more clear that Joe Biden would be the next President of the United States. Despite the election still being ‘too close to call’, the Democrats are ahead in most remaining key states (more on this below).
Blood plasma and vaccine producer CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) was the single biggest contributor, increasing 3.4% on the expectation that a Democrat Government would be more supportive to healthcare companies.
National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) released its FY20 report, announcing a 36.6% fall in profit for the 12 months to 30 September in what has been deemed a ‘mixed’ result by experts. Management has continued to highlight the importance of cost-cutting as revenue fell 1.4% on 2019 due to the impact of lower interest rates. Profit was primarily impacted by another $1.03 billion in write-downs, however, just one-third of deferred loans have failed to commence repayments.
NAB’s dividend was maintained at 30 cents per share, well down from 83 cents in 2019 and now offering a yield of around 4.4%. This result solidifies my preference for NAB, as it remains years ahead on the digitisation and cost-cutting program.
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Inghams cranks up dividends, Scentre open for business
Poultry farmer and retailer Inghams Group Ltd (ASX: ING) led the market for the day, increasing 16.1% after reporting a 6.2% increase in sales on the back of strong demand from the grocery store chains. Management also increased the dividend payout range from 70-80% of earnings, which bodes well for a higher income in the year ahead.
I’m quite positive on the agricultural and food sector given the potential lifestyle changes post-COVID, but tend to prefer direct property plays rather than companies with operating and pricing risk.
Scentre Group (ASX: SCG), owner of the Australian Westfield shopping centres, reported that every asset is now open and that 92% of stores within those centres are now trading, including Victoria. I can attest to that fact after visiting Westfield Doncaster for the first time in 2020 on the weekend.
Most importantly, rent collections are now back to 77% of total billed in 2020, with 85% received in the third quarter. The successful lockdown strategy means management has guided towards a reinstatement of dividends early in 2021. Scentre shares finished 2.2% higher.
US election result ‘nirvana’ for share markets
Despite protestations from either side, it is increasingly looking like a Biden Presidency with a Republican Senate and Democrat’s running the House of Representatives. What does this mean? According to Magellan Financial Group Ltd(ASX: MFG) CIO Hamish Douglass, it is almost the ‘Nirvana’ for sharemarkets.
Basically, it ensures the ‘checks and balances’ are in place, would restrict the new President’s ability to repeal tax cuts and force a more moderate spending agenda.
The clear result has been global stock markets continuing their strong rally, the S&P 500 finishing 2.0% higher and the Nasdaq 2.6%. The technology sector continues to drive performance, with semi-conductor group Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) over 12.7% higher after announcing strong growth in its 5G products.