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New high for the ASX despite COVID gloom

Daily Market Update

Miners send ASX to record, lithium boom 2.0, Zip tanks

The ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) powered to a record close despite a bumpy start to the week, with the materials sector sending the market 1.1% higher.

Materials jumped 2.2% and energy 2.5% with healthcare being the only detractor as the cyclical story returned.

The highlight was lithium miners Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) and Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE), which both finished around 10% higher after Orocobre reported strong results. 

The company confirmed 3,300 tonnes of production, a 31% increase, which converted to a 59% increase in sales volumes, ultimately revenue was US$21.6 million.

Sticking with mining, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) jumped 3.1% after the group signed a deal to supply nickel to Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) for battery production.

Demand for the commodity is expected to grow by 500% over the next decade amid rising demand for electric vehicles.

Any illusion that Australia’s economy is diversifying was disproven with the latest trade surplus of $13.3 billion in June being driven by $17.5 billion of the $41.2 billion in total exports coming from iron ore. Coal also remains a key export, hitting $555 million.

Zip underperforms, Santos’ record sales

Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) fell 7.8% on Thursday, the worst performer on the ASX after quarterly data failed to meet expectations.

The company delivered weaker than expected transaction volumes of $1.8 billion, an increase of 116% on 2020 levels with customers climbing 87% to 7.3 million.

Revenue beat expectations, up 104% to $129.9 million but an unexpected increase in bad debts has hedge funds setting short positions.

Zip’s revenue in the US jumped 280% and is now more than half of total revenue. An interesting reaction to a fairly strong result, but not unexpected given the prevailing valuation.

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) delivered record quarterly sales of US$1.1 billion and first-half sales exceeding US$2 billion as higher volumes combined with an oil price recovery; shares added 2.6%.

The company is now producing US$572 million in free cash flow with a breakeven price of US$25 per barrel of oil, yet the company will remain challenged by a renewed focus on cleaner energy.

Three-day winning streak, jobless claims increase, Intel struggles

The US markets were positive, with the major tech companies including Apple Inc (NYSE: AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NYSE: AMZN), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) delivering the majority of the gains, sending the Nasdaq 0.4% higher.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones were weaker, adding 0.1% and 0.2% respectively as investors turned away from the stocks likely to benefit from the reopening trade as jobless claims actually rose by 51,000 in the prior week.

Home sales continue to hit records, with the median price jumping 23.4% year over year, a similar trend to that of Australia with expats stuck and everyone looking to upgrade. 

Intel Corporation (NYSE: INTC) fell after reporting weaker than expected earnings, profit fell slightly to US$5 billion for the quarter, due to a similar decline in revenue of a few per cent.

The culprit was the group’s data centre revenue, down 9%, with memory solutions also dropping 34% after a booming second quarter.

Fortunately, their ‘internet of things’ revenue connecting everything from fridges to phones grew 47% in just three months.

Finally, Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) reported its fastest revenue growth since 2014, jumping 74% on the back of an 11% increase in users.

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