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ASX brushes aside COVID worries to hit new high

Daily Market Update

ASX trades off high, retail sales higher, Wesfarmers flags tough comparables  

The ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) finished at an all-time high, adding 0.6% on Thursday as the energy sector continued to rally.

The energy sector was 3.3% higher along with utilities, up 2% again, whilst consumer discretionary was the only detractor, falling 1.1%.

Worley Ltd (ASX: WOR), which provides services and engineering to the oil and gas sectors, was the highlight, jumping 7.7% in the session.

Company reports continue to slow with markets turning to economic results for guidance. Thursday was the latest retail sales figures, which showed spending increased another 1.1% in April, in line with expectations.

The result was driven by restaurant and café spending, which was 2.3% higher with department store sales continuing to fall, down 6.7% in the month. The result puts retail sales at 25% compared to the same time last year.

Shares in Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) fell 2.1% after confirming expectations that comparable sales from 2020 will likely result in some negative results in 2021.

That said, management confirmed that its retail businesses were seeing strong sales growth, particularly when compared on a two-year basis. 

$8 billion trade balance, Galaxy upgrades expectations, Tyro class action, Mesoblast sinks

Australia posted its 40th successive trade surplus, hitting $8 billion, with iron ore and coal exports remaining strong, but agricultural making a strong recovery, up 3.8% in April.

Lithium miner Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) added 1% after upgrading production guidance as the company delivers at a faster rate than expected.

Mt Cattlin is producing at full capacity, with 33.5k tonnes shipped and full-year guidance increased by 10,000 dry metric tonnes.

Mesoblast Ltd (ASX: MSB) continues to battle sentiment reporting quarterly results, with the company falling 3.1% after warnings that it may not have enough cash to meet its objectives over the next 12 months, increasing the likelihood of another capital raising.

Tyro Payments Ltd (ASX: TYR) fell 1.4% after a second class action was flagged over the shutdown of its terminals in 2020.

New vehicle sales jumped 100k in May, the highest level in over four years, with sales up 68% over a year ago, evidencing that consumers are increasingly focused on spending and travelling at home rather than abroad.

Five-day winning streak over, China bans loosened, Tesla keeps falling

All three US indices finished lower on Thursday, breaking a five-day winning streak for the Dow Jones, which was down 0.1%.

The S&P500 fell 0.4% with the Nasdaq hardest hit, down 1%, as Tesla (NYSE: TSLA) pushed the tech index lower.

The catalyst this time was a report that sales of Teslas in China fell by almost half in May, down to 9,800, whilst a number of models in the US were also recalled due to issues with their seat belts.

On the positive side, President Biden flagged some flexibility on a lower company tax rate, whilst US payrolls gained the most in over a year and the Services PMI, reflecting activity in restaurants and other sectors hit 62.7 in April, the highest since 1997.

This news followed the decision yesterday by the Federal Reserve to sell some US$8 billion in exchange traded funds and corporate bonds it purchased during the crisis to add liquidity to the market.

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