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ASX up 0.3% to three-week high

Daily Market Update (50)

ASX rallies on multiple mergers, Hub24 expands, Praemium delivers

After the unexpected end of Victoria’s lockdown that only way was up for the market, with the S&P/ASX200 gaining 0.3% to start the week.

Whilst not a large gain it hid a further divergence in cyclical versus defensive sectors with materials, energy, financials and utilities all up strongly, but healthcare, tech and real estate left behind.

The standouts were in base metals with more stimulus expected after China’s GDP printed at ‘just’ 4.9%, with Nickel Mines Ltd (ASX: NIC) and Orocobre (ASX: ORE) both gaining close to 5%.

But it was all about the takeovers and deals today led by Aristocrat Leisure (ASX: ALL), with the maker of poker machines entering a trading halt after agreeing to purchase gambling software company Playtech for $3.9 billion; $1.3 billion in new equity will be raised to fund the deal.

Platform provider Hub24 (ASX: HUB) fell 0.9% after announcing the acquisition of complementary service provider Class (ASX:CL1).

Class is known for its ownership provision of the Class Super SMSF accounting platform and ownership of Top Docs.

Shares jumped 61.3% on the news as it looks to be a perfect bolt on acquisition for Hub24 as it expands its services to financial advisers.

Zip, Praemium record quarters, NZ inflation hits record, Audinate tanks

Second tier buy now pay later provider Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) reported record transaction revenue in the first quarter, which hit $136 million, up nearly 100% on the prior year.

The strength came from a similar doubling of quarter transactions processed through the platform to $1.9 billion on a record 14.7 million total transactions.

Customer numbers and merchants continue to show resilience in the face of huge competition, up 82% and 71% respectively with the US rebranding from Quadpay to Zip now complete; shares fell 1.5% despite the positive news.

Hub24 competitor Praemium (ASX: PPS) rallied 6.9% after joining Netwealth with record quarterly platform inflows of $1.66 billion taking total assets under administration 46% higher than 2020s levels.

Managed accounts remain the most popular destination, up 58%.

New Zealand inflation hit a multi-decade high of 4.9% year on year, as fuel, housing and food prices hit the closed border economy, bond rates shot up after the recent interest rate decision.

Nasdaq defies growth slowdown, Bitcoin ETF launched, Amazon’s hiring spree

US markets were mixed on Monday with the Nasdaq outperforming strongly, gaining 0.8% as Facebook (NYSE: FB), Tesla (NYSE: TSLA) and Costco (NYSE: COST) all gained over 2%.

Amazon (NYSE: AMZN) and Apple (NYSE: AAPL) also gained with the former announcing their intention to hire another 150 thousand staff to meet growing demand and the latter announcing a new round of AirPods and Mac Book Pro’s.

But all eyes were on the crypto sector after ProShares launched the world’s first BitCoin ETFthe ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (NYSE: BITO) with many suggesting it could send the price into six figures.

The UK central bank has flagged the potential for rate hikes to deal with the current inflation problem, despite the fact that it is being driven by a circa fivefold increase in energy prices.

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