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Aussie shares are lifting slightly at lunch, with the ASX 200 up by just 0.14 per cent to 5,960.7 as gains from Tech, Industrials, Financials and Telcos are being mostly offset by Materials and Consumer Staples. Early in the day, the Aussie market hit a near three-week high and got to within 5pts of the 6,000pt mark before fading into lunch.

Unless the market can improve by at least an additional 1.7 per cent by close of trade Wednesday, September is set to be the first monthly decline for our market since March. Of the 21 trading days this month, the market has improved 10 times and fallen 11, highlighting investor cautiousness ahead of the US election in early November.

The banks have faded from a better start, with Bank of Queensland (BOQ) hardest hit following an update by the company. BOQ flagged a $175m hit to loans due to COVID-19 and is yet to make a decision whether or not to pay investors a dividend.

Travel stocks are continuing to standout however, thanks partly to a manageable number of new coronavirus cases in VIC and NSW, the easing of some restrictions and hopes of a travel bubble with New Zealand. Flight Centre (FLT), Webjet (WEB), Qantas (QAN), Sydney Airport (SYD) and Crown (CWN) are all lifting strongly. All five stocks are down by between 25 – 60 per cent Year-to-Date.

An underperformer in the travel space today is Air New Zealand (AIZ), which is slipping by 1.5 per cent after providing an update to the market. The airline said it is burning through NZ$65-NZ$85m of cash monthly, that it drew down NZ$110m from the Government Loan Facility, expects to raise capital before June 2021 and is unable to provide specific guidance for FY21 due to COVID-19.

Corporate Travel Management (CTD) remain in a trading halt and has agreed to buy a US based corporate travel company called Travel & Transport for ~US$200m. The company says it usually sells ~14,000 tickets per day to the corporate sector and has partnerships with T-Mobile, New Balance, Columbia and Dunkin Brands. It will raise ~$375m from investors to help pay for the acquisition at a ~14 per cent discount to its last traded price. CTD shares are down ~20 per cent this year.

A number of companies are set to pay investors dividends today including Coles (COL), St Barbara Mines (SBM), Sandfire Resources (SFR), AFG and TGR. Tomorrow will be a much bigger day for dividend payments, with CBA, ANZ, REG, WOR, PMV, NST, BPT, ASX, LOV, DTL and MHJ all said to pay investors dividends. ASX will also hold its AGM on Wednesday and data on China’s manufacturing and services sector will receive most attention across the region.

Volume is light at lunch, with 3bn shares traded worth just $2.6bn. 724 stocks are up, 436 down and 364 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec