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Strongest month since November as ASX gains 1.8%

Daily Market Update

ASX positive, Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) teams up with JB HiFi, building approvals heat up

The ASX200 (ASX:XJO) posted another positive day as the quarter comes to an end, finishing 0.8% higher.

Whilst a positive headline, the market fell heavily into the close, down around 1% in the last hour of trading. This resulted in another 1.8% gain for the month of March.

Every sector finished the day higher with industrials and property the highlights, up 2.2% and 1.3% behind Westfield (ASX:URW) and Atlas Arteria (ASX:ALX) which added 6.4% and 5.7% respectively.

The key driver appears to be positive news coming from the Biden administration on infrastructure spend and the decision by the NSW Government not to impose a lockdown.

The selloff in the platform sector appears to have come to an end, with Hub 24 (ASX:HUB) rallying 4.4% as investors look through the short-term issues with their interest margins.

Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) has beaten bitter rival Afterpay (ASX:APT) to the punch, announcing a deal with JB Hi-Fi Ltd (ASX:JBH) which will ensure their BNPL platform is preferred at both branded and Good Guys stores; shares were broadly flat.

Natural hazard update for Suncorp (ASX:SUN), builders battling, SG Fleet acquiring Lease Plan

Insurer Suncorp Ltd (ASX:SUN) rallied 2.6% after quantifying the level of exposure to the natural disasters across NSW and Queensland, with the 7,600 claims seemingly less than the market expected.

Management reiterated the exposure was around $250 million with significant reinsurance in place to reduce their risk for the remainder of the year. 

Building approvals jumped 21.6% in February after a 19% slump in January, with the Home Builder program set to end shortly.

Boral Ltd (ASX:BLD) and AdBri Ltd (ASX:ABC) were the biggest beneficiaries with home building products in short supply, they added 2.6% and 4.8% respectively.

Vehicle and fleet management group SG Fleet (ASX:SGF) announced the acquisition of leading lease provider Lease Plan for $273 million as they seek to capitalise on their strong position, it will be funded by a fresh capital raising.

US tech moves to an all-time high, rotation rally finishes the quarter strongly 

The tech-focused Nasdaq finished the month and quarter on a strong footing, adding 1.5% to move to an all-time high, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) up over 4% as positivity grows around their iCar prospects. 

The Dow Jones ultimately finished 0.3% lower with energy stocks falling on the latest OPEC meeting and no announcement about supply expectations, whilst the major investment banks including Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) retreated as signs the Archegos Capital debacle is coming to an end.

Energy and oil stocks were by far the highlight jumping 30% in the first quarter of 2020, followed by the other main cyclical sectors being financials and industrials, which both benefit from higher bond rates, they were up 16% and 11% respectively.

The US economy shows continued signs of recovery, adding 517k private sector jobs primarily in hospitality and leisure as long standing restrictions came to an end amid the successful vaccine rollout.

While the UK and US sprint ahead in their vaccination rollouts, Europe is facing another deadly wave of cases amid the slow pace of the vaccine rollout.

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