ASX 200 (XJO) morning report: What to expect when the ASX opens on Friday

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is tipped to fall when the market opens this morning. Here’s what’s making headlines.

ASX vaccine rally pauses, Origin updates the market

The ASX 200 ended its winning streak following the weaker economic news from the US, the market falling 0.7% on Thursday as traders seemed to be tiring.

It was those sectors and companies that have performed strongest in November giving back recent gains, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) falling 1.6% pushing the banking sector 1.4% lower.

The energy sector also fell by 1.0%, with signs that global trade may be slowing. Vertically-integrated electricity retailer Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) was the standout, with shares heading 1.1% higher after management released a trading update.

Origin CEO Frank Calabria upgraded guidance for gas production, expecting 4% higher than before, backed by stronger export demand from Asia at higher prices than domestic gas sales. Management noted that its cash flow breakeven price of oil is US$25-29, placing the company in the money at current prices.

Origin also announced its continued push into lower-emission energy sources, outlining plans for a hydrogen export project. Origin shares look to be offering a more diversified entry point for the energy sector with most direct oil exposures having run quite hard already.

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Bega Cheese unveils $500 million acquisition

Bega Cheese Ltd (ASX: BGA) announced a sizeable takeover, entering a binding agreement to purchase all of Lion Dairy & Drinks for $534 million. This compares to Bega’s current market capitalisation of just over $1 billion. The acquisition will be funded by a combination of new debt facilities and a $401 million capital raising priced at $4.60 per share, a 10% discount to the share price.

The acquisition sees a change in direction for the company, combining the traditional spreads, dairy and cheese business with a more diversified Lion that spans milk, juice, and other non-alcoholic products. Lion is the company behind the well-known brands of Pura, Big M and Dare, amongst others.

Bega’s management is seeking to build a ‘truly great food company’ and sees synergies in the diverse production and supply chains but most importantly, a more efficient distribution strategy. Revenue is expected to reach $3 billion once the deal is completed and will be immediately earnings accretive.

Elsewhere, Australian capital expenditure on buildings and equipment contracted double what was expected, falling 3% in the September quarter which is now down some 13.8% on the previous year. However, the weakness should be offset by the strong retail spending numbers when GDP is released next week.

What to expect when the ASX opens today

With the US market closed for Thanksgiving, there is little in the way of direction overnight. Markets were still digesting the weaker than expected economic data that showed a spike in unemployment claims but were somewhat buoyed by the Fed’s comments around its QE program.

European markets were flat but in the midst of their strongest month on record, with additional UK and German restrictions hitting confidence and sending the oil price lower. Investors are once again growing concerned about the Brexit outcome with the vaccine now seemingly under control.  The result will likely be some profit-taking in Australian energy and travel names when the market opens today, expect healthcare names to outperform.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, the author of this article does not have a financial or commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.

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