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ASX falls 0.7%, Afterpay closes at 7-month low

Daily Market Update (91)

Tech pulls market lower, deals galore across travel, property sectors 

The technology sector once again dragged the market lower, falling 2.6 per cent and pulling the market down 0.7 per cent along with it.

The biggest detractors were Afterpay (ASX: APT) and Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) which fell 3.1 and 6.9 per cent respectively as the flood out of high growth tech companies continues apace.

The utilities sector was the only real winner, gaining 0.3 per cent behind AGL (ASX: AGL) and Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) which were 2.4 and 0.2 per cent higher respectively.

Shares in Helloworld (ASX: HLO) gained 16.2 per cent after Corporate Travel (ASX: CTD) announced a deal to buy the company’s corporate travel division for $175 million as they seek to bulk up their operations.

Wesfarmers (ASX: WES) doubled down on their bid for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (ASX: API) stating they would use their 19.3 per cent shareholding as a blocking stake against Woolworths (ASX: WOW) higher bid and suggesting pharmacists were on their side. 

Qube sells Moorebank, new CEO at Challenger,  

Shares in Challenger (ASX: CGF) were 1.2 per cent higher, bucking the market trend after the board announced Nick Hamilton would take on the role of CEO going forward.

He moves from the high performing funds management division, and has been well received by shareholders.

Qube Holdings (ASX: QUB) entered a short trading halt before announcing the sale of the property and warehousing at the Moorebank Terminal in NSW to Logos for $1.67 billion; they must still deliver on an agreed rail terminal.

In a similar trend to overseas, Virgin Money (ASX: VUK) topped the large cap end of the market, gaining 4.1 per cent on hopes that higher interest rates in the UK and Europe will boost profit margins in 2022.

CSL remains in a trading halt as the company digests the acquisition of Vifor Pharma and seeks to finalise their capital raising, the largest for the market this year. 

Fed accelerates taper, flags more rate hikes, markets rally 

It was all about the Federal Reserve overnight with what will likely be the last major economic announcement until close to February next year.

As expected, the central bank will accelerate their tapering of bond purchases to US$30 billion per month, meaning QE will be all but finished by March rather than June.

At the same time, board members of the Fed increased their votes on 2022 rate hikes from one in September to at least three, however, a lot of water will go under the bridge by then.

Inflation expectations were increased from 2.2 to 2.6 per cent and growth expectations cut.

This news came as retail sales numbers slumped, growing just 0.3 per cent in November, well below expectations.

Despite predictions that rate hikes would lead to a market sell-off, all three benchmarks reversed losses, the Dow finishing 1.1 per cent, S&P500 1.6 and Nasdaq 2.2.

Company-specific releases have slowed, by the electric vehicle market behind Tesla (NYSE: TSLA) and Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN) continued to be sold off due to their high growth profiles.

The more cyclical business, even in the tech space performed well, with semiconductor makers, AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) and NVIDIA (NYSE: NVDA) up more than 2 per cent each.  

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