There has been plenty of news and economic data to keep investors busy in the first few hours of Thursday’s session including another daily record number of COVID-19 cases out of Victoria, a larger than expected lift in June unemployment and better than expected Chinese economic activity or GDP growth for the June quarter.
The ASX 200 has bounced around between small gains and losses this morning and at lunch is trading 30 points or 0.5% softer at 6,022. This is despite a strong lead from Wall Street with US investors remaining hopeful on the positive phase one trial results from biotech firm Moderna with a potential vaccine.
The local healthcare sector is the major drag on broader market moves with a decline of 1.7% for our largest listed health stock, CSL Limited (CSL). The materials, consumer staples and IT sectors are also acting as a weight.
Buy-now pay-later providers such as Sezzle (SZL) and ZipCo (Z1P) continue their recent decline. SZL is down another 5% today and has tumbled 25% in the past three sessions but is still up 74% in July alone. Z1P is down 8% today with a loss of 21% in the last three sessions but is also improving for the month, but by a more modest 16%.
Retailing names Beacon Lighting (BLX) is having a strong session with a gain of 8% on business update. Unaudited FY20 statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) is expected to be around $22 million and 38% higher than the year before. Jewellery retailer Michael Hill (MHJ) is also improving on a sales update for the June Quarter with sales online surging 193% higher than the same time last year. Although same store sales fell 4.1%, disrupted by physical store closures.
Back to the jobs data for June, the unemployment rate rose from 7.1% to 7.4% (highest since late 1998) even with an employment rise of 210,800 after falling 264,100 in May. The rise was completely in part-time jobs with a fall in fulltime employment. The jobless rate rose due to a sharp pick-up in the participation rate with more Aussies actively seeking employment.
The Aussie dollar has fallen back a touch to 69.87 US cents. So far, 3b units have traded worth $3.3b with 591 higher, 543 lower and 327 unchanged.
Published by CommSec