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ASX 200 (XJO) morning report – 6 ASX shares to watch

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

Another positive day for the ASX, Australian Super makes a splash

The ASX 200 managed to deliver another positive day on Tuesday in what has become an incredible end to the year. Yet the story changes on a weekly basis, with last week’s winners becoming this week’s losers.

Yesterday it was the consumer staples, up 1.1%, and healthcare, up 0.8%, sectors pushing the market higher with Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) benefitting from Metcash Limited’s (ASX: MTS) strong update on Monday.

As flagged in this column, corporate activity continues to accelerate with Australian Super once again on the prowl, announcing a full takeover offer for New Zealand renewable energy and data centre provider Infratil Ltd (ASX: IFT) at NZ$7.43; a 39% premium to the last traded price.

The deal seems complex but continues the trend of huge Australian pension funds blurring the lines between ‘private’ and public markets like the ASX through which the fund can exert control. Infratil owns assets including Wellington Airport and Vodafone New Zealand, with several part-owned by the Commonwealth Super Corporation and the Future Fund. The Infratil share price finished 21% higher on the news.

Featured video: Australian Finance Podcast 2020 Wrapped

G8 Education updates the market, Adairs upgrades guidance

Childcare centre operator G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM) slumped 6.6% despite announcing a significant improvement in occupancy levels to 75.5% of its total. The company, which cares for as many as 58,000 children across the country, flagged a significant underpayment of staff, between $50 million and $80 million, that will require remediation or repayment. Interestingly, the company reported ‘wage efficiencies’ as a key contributor to its expected $98 million in earnings.

Linen and bedding seller Adairs Ltd (ASX: ADH) was one of the leaders, delivering a trading update and jumping 2.8% after flagging earnings growth guidance of 300% for the half-year to $66 million. Same-store sales for the first 23 weeks of the financial year increased 17.3% but it was the higher-margin online sales driving the recovery, up 99.7% for the financial year to date.

It was clearly an interesting time for the listing of the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (ASX: DBI), which fell 16% on its first day of trading despite the attractive 7% yield on offer.

US markets at record-highs, world-first Australian law

Global markets continued their positive run, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both finishing higher overnight, 0.3% and 0.5% respectively.

The strength continued after the UK Government began its deployment of the AstraZeneca (LON: AZN) vaccine ahead of what many expect to be the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to offer emergency use authorisation to the one produced by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). Whilst efficacy in combatting the virus has been strong, there remain questions over whether the drugs can stop its spread, suggesting it may take some time for a return to normal.

The Australian Government is set to pass world-first laws this week requiring tech giants Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) to ‘pay their way’ for journalistic content on their newsfeeds. The sheer dominance in these businesses is reflected in their share of online advertising spend, with Google attracting $53 and Facebook $28 of every $100 spent.

Sticking with digital media, game designer Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) reported that its latest ‘World of Warcraft’ game sold 3.7 million units in a single day, the fastest-selling PC game ever.

Looking ahead, the week sees the long-awaited float of Airbnb and judgement day for the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU.

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From 200+ ETFs in Australia, our top investment analyst has just identified his #1 ETF for 2021 and beyond.

Low fees? Check.

Long-term growth potential? Check.

Regular cash returns? Check!

This ETF makes investing in ETFs "Super-Easy".

Simply click here to access the full ETF report, ticker code, and step-by-step investment guide. Our expert's #1 ETF report is completely free.

No gimmicks, no payment, no credit card info. Just click the link below and enter your email address. We'll send you the report right away.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE REPORT

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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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The information on this website is general financial advice only. That means, the advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, you should consider if the advice is appropriate to you and your needs, before acting on the information. In addition, you should obtain and read the product disclosure statement (PDS) before making a decision to acquire a financial product. If you don’t know what your needs are, you should consult a trusted and licensed financial adviser who can provide you with personal financial product advice. Please read our Terms & Conditions and Financial Services Guide before using this website.

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