Markets only going one way
It was another strong week for global markets with the ASX 200 rising 1.7% and the Dow Jones ending up 3.3% last week, as reporting season continued. Markets bucked the trend of record-breaking weak economic data to push higher. It’s Memorial Day in the US today, with many concerned about another outbreak following the reopening of beaches.
The ASX remains stuck in a trading range between 5,100 and 5,600. Nonetheless, futures seem to have taken a positive lead from Friday’s trade and the market is likely to open higher on Monday with oil prices beginning to recover.
The European economy is predicted to shrink by between 5% and 12% this year, despite the European Central Bank expanding its bond-buying once again.
China v the world
The political rhetoric has shown few signs of slowing down over the weekend, with the Chinese announcing it would pass a National Security Law in Hong Kong, sparking riots and protests once again.
It follows 80% tariffs on Australian barley, which hit GrainCorp, restriction of meat exports, and a change to the way iron ore is checked at Chinese ports. The impacts of which could hurt Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group. The Chinese Communist Government dropped its growth target in 2021 and appears to be going to war with most major trading partners.
In my view, this is incredibly bad timing for Australia, which is as reliant as ever on our exports. However, it is likely to hit the second and third-order businesses, like education and travel, rather than commodity exports that are impacted the most.
Is the recovery starting?
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) reported a steady improvement in results in March, having seen out the worst of the shutdown. Revenue improved 22% on the previous year to $16.1 billion and the company increased active consumers by 15 million people to 726 million. Management was clear that they are benefitting from the digital transformation brought on by the COVID-19 lockdowns, with the Cloud Computing division up 58% to $1.7 billion in revenue, albeit half the size of Amazon.
Shoe retailer Footlocker (FL) reported a 43% drop in same-store sales and suspended its dividend as the ‘essential’ stores like Walmart continue to outperform less specialised retailers.
Finally, Wesfarmers updated the market on Friday, writing off some $700 million across its Kmart and Industrial divisions whilst announcing wide-ranging changes to its struggling Target chain.
The Wesfarmers group will shut up to 25 Target Stores and transfer many more to the popular Kmart chain as they attempt to stem the bleeding. In our view, WES’s combination of ‘essential’ retail businesses and cash on its balance sheet makes it a worthy consideration for portfolios.
The Rask Media daily report is written by Drew Meredith, Financial Adviser and Director of Wattle Partners.