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Banks drag ASX down, tech outperforms

Daily Market Update

Negative start to the week, AUSTRAC on the prowl, takeovers galore

The ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) finished down 0.1% on Monday, a negative start to the week driven lower by the financials sector, which fell 1.1%. 

Elsewhere the retail sector was hit, falling 0.8% as the Melbourne lockdown continues, whilst the IT sector was the brightest light, jumping 2.1%.

The news of the day was likely a series of announcements from the most feared regulator, AUSTRAC, which deals with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Compliance.

In a busy morning for the regulator, it announced no less than four investigations and formal concerns about ASX-listed businesses.

Casinos continue to bear the brunt with SKYCITY Entertainment Group (ASX: SKC), Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR) and Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN) hit with notices, sending shares down 7.7%, 2.2%, and 1.5%, respectively. 

National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) was also in the crosshairs of AUSTRAC, falling 3.2%, with the regulator raising concerns about customer due diligence and identification across each business. 

On a positive note for the economy, ANZ job ads increased another 7.9% in May, up 38.8% on the pre-pandemic level. The question that remains is whether these jobs are being filled as expected.

Private equity bid for Hansen tech, Altium rockets, Australia’s credit rating maintained

Takeovers were in vogue Monday with shares in Altium Limited (ASX: ALU) spiking 39% after the circuit board design platform received an unsolicited offer from US-listed Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK). 

Autodesk has a similar business model in the US but Altium management indicated whilst appreciative of the interest, the offer ‘significantly undervalues’ the business, flatly rejecting the offer — the standard response.

Similarly, shares in Hansen Technologies (ASX: HSN) jumped 23% after private equity player BGH Capital lobbed a bid.

The company delivers software platforms to the utilities and pay-TV sectors, with management welcoming the bid and deciding to engage with the bidder.

Shares in shopping centre owner Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX) were flat despite broker Morgan Stanley flagging a $26 million cost to Melbourne’s lockdown, whilst the Australian Government had its credit rating moved from a negative outlook to an affirmation of their AAA rating.

Whilst positive, a downgrade would have had little impact on borrowing costs for the Government or the major banks.

US markets mixed ahead of inflation, Nasdaq outperforms, Apple upgrades

The Dow Jones briefly touched a new record on Monday, but ultimately finished 0.4% lower, along with the S&P500 which fell 0.1%.

The weakness was driven by a fall in banking, financial, and materials shares after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen welcomed the potential for planned stimulus packages to create inflation and eventually higher rates.

The Nasdaq was the strongest, moving 0.4% higher after Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) flagged a number of updates at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

These included an improvement to its FaceTime platform expected to make it a formidable contender against the likes of Zoom.

Cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE: AMC) continued its incredible rally, jumping 14.8%.

In global economic news, the Group of Seven (G-7) nations agreed in principle to maintain a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% to reduce the ability for large global companies to stash profits in low tax environments.

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