ASX 200 (XJO) set to open higher on Moderna vaccine news

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is tipped to open higher when the market opens on Tuesday according to the latest SPI futures data. Here’s what ASX investors need to know.

Tech glitch halts trade on the ASX

The ASX 200 managed just 25 minutes of trade on Monday morning before the platform’s new settlement system failed, closing down the market for the day. Before the shutdown it was a positive start – the market finished 1.2% higher on the back of a solid global lead, with financials and healthcare the biggest contributors.

The shutdown is one of the longest in history and is placing pressure on the management of ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX) after a series of technical glitches, with regulator ASIC labelling it a ‘significant concern’; not something you would expect from a monopoly service provider.

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) was one of the early leaders, heading 1.8% higher after announcing its intention to build an $800 million vaccine plant near Melbourne Airport, beginning in 2021. The plant will include its standard vaccine production but also the capability to switch capabilities should the country be hit with another pandemic in the future.

Featured video: The Australian Finance Podcast November Q&A

Elders retail pivot delivers, BNPL shares under pressure

Diversified agribusiness retailer and service provider Elders Ltd (ASX: ELD) released its FY20 results, highlighting an 80% increase in profit to $124.2 million and increasing the dividend by close to 40%. Management cited strong and broadening demand for farmland as key contributors, with the acquisition of Australian Independent Rural Retailers immediately adding to profits, benefitting from the limited lockdown in regional Victoria.

Financial services regulator, ASIC, released a long-awaited report into the BNPL sector, raising concerns around the reliance on late fees to generate revenue but falling short of calling for significant change in legislation. ASIC reported a 90% increase in transactions in 2019 with one in five users defaulting on a payment and 1.1 million payments incurring multiple fees. Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) was quick to respond, reporting that just 1 in 100 of its own clients have incurred late fees. The IT sector was the only one to fall in the shortened session yesterday.

Moderna vaccine success sends US markets higher

The trial results from Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) trumped those of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) overnight, suggesting 94.5% effectiveness for the COVID-19 vaccine; Moderna shares jumped 9.6%.

The Dow Jones rallied to a record high on the news as the rotation out of COVID winners into ‘value stocks’ continued. As has been the case, the initial moves were tempered throughout the session with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finishing 1.2% and 0.6% higher, respectively.

The clear winner in the last few weeks has been the energy sector, particularly oil, with most related companies moving 10% higher on the hopes of a return to normal travel, shipping and ultimately energy use. This should send the likes of Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) and Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) sharply higher today (if the ASX is running).

Markets were also boosted by a third straight month of positive retail sales in China, up 4.3% in October – the fastest rate in 10 months. Interestingly, spending has shifted from stay at home items like furniture (+1.3%) back into cars (12%) and alcohol (15%), suggesting a return to normality is possible.

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Low fees? Check.

Long-term growth potential? Check.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew owns shares of Zip Co.

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