ASX update; retail pain on show at Myer (ASX:MYR)

Melbourne, Australia - April 18 2020: Bourke St Mall in Melbourne is quiet and empty during the Coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdown.
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ASX holds onto gains, retail pain on show at Myer (ASX:MYR), another sell off to end the week

The ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) managed to stave off weakness in the afternoon, finishing 0.5%, despite a much stronger lead from the US markets.

The telecommunications and materials sectors including the likes of Telstra (ASX:TLS) and BHP (ASX:BHP) were the leaders, as investors stepped back into the market seeking income.

Myer Holdings Ltd (ASX:MYR) finished 17.6% as the true impacts of the economic shutdown became evident. Management lead with the headline that online sales had increased 61%, despite this the company fell to an $172 million loss and wrote down the sale of a number of brand names by close to $100 million.

The CEO is among the loudest voices asking for more flexibility from the Victorian Government. A number of companies faced the House Economics committee, with AMP Ltd (ASX:AMP) facing a grilling on its culture, the CEO suggesting its issues aren’t endemic and that improvements are being made; shares finished 3.3% higher.

Bonuses linked to carbon emissions, buy gold not the miner, fee free credit cards on offer

BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP) put their stake in the ground, announcing that 10% of executive bonuses will be linked to their targeted emission reductions; a great start but still a long way to go.

The company also announced its coal assets would likely be demerged into a new listed entity, with few outright buyers interested given the current climate.

Both National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd (ASX:CBA) announced new no-interest credit cards, creatively titled Straight Up and Neo, as they seek to compete with the likes of PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Afterpay Ltd (ASX:APT) in offering cheap credit to consumers.

News that gold miner Resolute Mining Ltd (ASX:RSG) had removed its production guidance due to strikes at their African mines reiterated the unique issue of seeking an exposure to gold through operating companies rather than through bullion directly; shares fell 6%. 

Tech selloff renewed, Europe overtakes the US, BP goes green

Australian investors face another bout of volatility to finish the week, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 finished down 2.0% and 1.5% respectively.

The selling pressure was broad-based, with more than 90% of index constituents falling amid another fall in the oil price and US unemployment claims held steady rather than continuing to improve.

Modern Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) delivered a rare positive, even as the EU surpassed the US for virus cases as it re-enters hot spot status.

It’s becoming clear the economic recovery will not be as swift as expected, particularly without a vaccine, as cases numbers rise amid a return to normal movement of people.

The oil price fell below $37 per barrel once again sending shares in BP Plc (LON:BP) lower after announcing its first foray into wind power.

Finally, the ECB left monetary policy steady suggesting it is ‘efficient and effective’, despite concerns it wasn’t doing enough. Global inflation data is due this afternoon.

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