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Aussie shares have kicked off the day in positive territory, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.8 per cent to 5,970 thanks to gains from the banks, major miners and property stocks. Despite the gains, the local market has faded from this morning’s best levels when the ASX 200 briefly cracked 6,000pts and was up by as much as 1.5 per cent. Volume remains a little light due to school holidays.

US markets provided a positive lead, with the Dow Jones lifting by 1.4 per cent and Dow futures suggesting a better start to trade tonight is a possibility. There seemed to be sufficient excitement about Gilead’s Remdesivir drug to offset the fact there are ~60,000 new COVID-19 cases being diagnosed daily in the US and a record 15,000 in Florida in just 24 hours. This was a record for any US state since the crisis began.

Locally, The Star (SGR) and Queensland Government have been unable to reach agreement on a second Gold Coast casino licence and Global Tourism Hub. Shares in The Star (SGR) – which slumped by close to 9 per cent last week – are lifting strongly on Monday.

Aged care provider, Estia Health (EHE) has flagged a non-cash impairment charge of $124-$148m, which will hold back its full year results. EHE said it’s ‘…primarily on goodwill arising from historical acquisitions’. Oil Search (OSH) expects a non-cash impairment charge of US$360-$400m in its 2020 interim results which it said was largely related to PNG exploration licences. Cochlear (COH) chief financial officer, Brent Cubis has announced his resignation and intends to depart the hearing implant maker at the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Sezzle (SZL) has raised $79.1m at $5.30 per share via a placement to help accelerate its growth strategy. SZL shares are surging by 21 per cent after the buy-now-pay-later company came out of its trading halt this morning. Afterpay (APT) is down 1.8 per cent after hitting a record high last week with Zip Co (Z1P) hit an all-time high today.

In Australia, Victoria remains a trouble spot with 273 new COVID-19 cases announced on Sunday and the state’s students ordered to return to home schooling from next Monday (20 July). Markets globally have done well in recent months (up by between 30-40 per cent on average) partly thanks to government and central bank support but also the reopening of their economies. A continued spike in new cases remains a threat for the reopening process and could hit markets.

COVID-19 aside, this week is set to be busy on both the data and corporate event front. Locally, all eyes will be on this Thursday’s June employment report. This is likely to highlight a strong lift in employment but an equally large rise in unemployment (due to more people seeking jobs). South32 and Rio Tinto are both set to post quarterly updates late in the week, data on the state of China’s economy will be released on Tuesday and Thursday, central banks will meet in Japan, the European Union and Canada in coming days while a number of major US banks (Citi, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are all set to post earnings).

3.2bn shares have changed hands so far today, worth $2.6bn. 574 stocks are up, 530 down and 367 are flat.

Published by  CommSec