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ASX ends 0.2% ahead after miners and banks wrestle

Daily Market Update

Small gain for ASX, CBA nears $100, Zip keeps buying 

The ASX200 (ASX: XJO) managed to finished just 0.2% higher on Monday as strength in the banking sector including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) offset weakness in materials.

CBA is once again trading at an all-time high and just $1.24 short of the $100 mark.

Iron oreand commodities were the talks of the day, however, with the iron ore price falling 5.3% overnight and sending the likes of Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) down over 4%.

The key driver was a stern announcement from the Chinese Government that speculation in key commodity and futures markets would not be tolerated, suggesting this had been the driver behind recent record prices.

BHP Group (ASX: BHP) was relatively immune, falling only 1.8% on the news.

Kogan Ltd (ASX: KGN) jumped 14.7% as it starts to recover from the week from hell whilst end of financial year sales on their website ramp up.

Hotel Property Investments (ASX: HPI) remained flat despite announcing the acquisition of seven new pubs for $32 million, all leased to Australian Venue Co

Zip seeks to replicate US success, Aristocrat profit slashed, Freedom returns gathers steam

Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) announced that it would be taking full control of Spotii Holdings and Twisto Payments for $160 million as the pursuit of global domination continues.

Spotii is a BNPL player based in the United Arab Emirates and Twisto in Europe, with Zip having already held minority stakes in each business.

The acquisition aims to ensure its offering is able to span borders for major merchant customers. Zip shares finished 0.8% higher.

Pokie machine designer Aristocrat Leisure (ASX: ALL) reported a 73.5% fall in statutory profit to $346 million. However, on a normalised basis the result was actually an 18% increase due to large one-off gains in 2020.

Revenue was remarkably resilient in the six months to March 2021, falling just 1% to $2.22 billion with an expansion in the margin to 33.7% offering operating leverage.

Of most concern was the near halving of cash flow, down 42.2% to $358 million with continued R&D required.

Shares were just 0.1% higher despite the company reinstating a dividend of 15 cents per share.

Cereal maker Freedom Foods (ASX: FNP) is nearing a recovery today, announcing the successful raising of $265 million to ‘wholesale’ investors.

The raising was made as a secured and convertible note which will likely act to further dilute long-term shareholders when actioned, shares finished 3.5% higher.

Tech leads off, Amazon buying James Bond, Virgin Galactic’s first flight

US markets commenced the week strongly, led by gains in the technology sector, which finished 1.4% higher on Monday.

Among the highlights was Amazon’s (NYSE: AMZN) announcement that it was seeking to buy movie studio MGM, which owns the likes of Rocky and James Bond, for US$9 billion as the company continues to pivot into the streaming sector.

Similarly, the court showdown between Fortnite developer Riot Games and Apple (NYSE: AAPL) over access to the App Store will finish today with a decision due this week; both shares finished 1.3% higher.

Meanwhile, shares in Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) rocketed 27.6% following the company’s successful weekend test flight to the edge of space.

More inflation and employment data are due this week with the Biden’s administration deciding to cut the infrastructure stimulus plan from US$2.3 trillion to US$1.7 trillion now unlikely to be passed by Republicans for at least a few weeks.

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