ASX delivers third straight increase but weak open ahead, Crown (ASX:CWN) shutdown, anaemic wage growth
The ASX200 (ASX:XJO) experienced another positive, albeit somewhat mixed, day with the banking sector (+1.7%) forcing the market higher by 0.5%.
The travel sector was the key detractor as an outbreak in South Australia combined with profit taking hitting confidence.
Investors continue to return to the banks as a normalise in interest rates supports profits whilst the doomsday scenario of 30% property price falls appears to be off the cards for the time being; CBA (ASX:CBA) the big winner adding 2.9%.
Casino operator Crown Ltd (ASX:CWN) entered a trading halt late in the session after the NSW State Government announced the Barangaroo casino opening would be halted until 2021 on the back of potential money laundering revelations.
Market darling A2 Milk Ltd (ASX:A2M) was among the worst performers falling 4.8% despite the outgoing Chairman reiterating revenue expectations, with investors clearly concerned about the lack of transparency into Chinese Daigou sales, a lucrative part of their business.
Chinese pressure hitting United Malt (ASX:UMG), Aristocrat’s (ASX:ALL) poker machines force dividend cut
United Malt Group (ASX:UMG) which was demerged from Graincorp (ASX:GNC) earlier this year highlighted the growing impact on global barley producers from China’s more aggressive stance against Australia.
That said, processing volumes are back to 90% of pre-COVID levels with full year profit falling just 3% to $57.4 million.
Processing revenue fell just 1% with warehouse and distribution work falling 6% and the dividend cut to 3.9 cents; the share price was up 3.0% on the news.
Poker machine designer and operator Aristocrat Leisure Ltd (ASX:ALL) slashed their dividend by 70% from 34 cents to 10 cents per share despite being a major recipient of the Government’s Job Keeper regime.
Revenue fell 5.9% to $4.1 billion with falling margins resulting in a 46.7% fall in profit to $476.6 million.
The Australian business was hardest hit with revenue falling 72%, compared to 53% in the America’s, as stringent lockdowns and social distancing capped customer limits.
The company has recovered quickly from March lows but there remains significant uncertainty ahead.
US markets continue to weaken, Target (NYSE:TGT) bodes well for Christmas
US markets were broadly weaker overnight as investors tire of spiking COVID cases across the country.
The S&P500 fell 1.2% and the Nasdaq 0.7% with Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) once again the leader adding 10.2% along with a number of lower cost retail focused stocks, including Target (NYSE:TGT).
Management of Target reported a 20.7% increase on 2019 sales for the third quarter, double the consensus estimate on the back of incredibly strong e-commerce sales figures where Target has a sector leading platform.
In further positive signs for the US economy housing starts for single family homes reached their highest rate since 2007 hitting 1.53m in October, a 14.2% increase on 2019.
Europe has once again began to outperform the US, having entered lockdowns more quickly, with this week’s progress on a Brexit deal offering hope for a smoother than expected exit.