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Aussie shares are lifting for a fifth day, remaining near eightmonth highs and have surged by close to 6 per cent over the past week. The ASX 200 is up 1.2 per cent to 6,422 on Wednesday, with all sectors lifting strongly at lunch. The US election outcome, which seems set to result in a divided Congress and Pfizer’s positive coronavirus vaccine trial results yesterday, have helped push the market higher.

Pfizer’s interim vaccine results on Tuesday highlighted the pharmaceutical giant’s 90 per cent effective vaccine. This is around twice as effective as the average annual flu vaccine. In coming weeks, other major vaccine front runners like AstraZeneca and Moderna are set to post their latest results.

Some of the hardest hit stocks in recent months have come back impressively in recent days. This includes energy stocks, financials and travel companies. The big banks are up by an average of 1.5- 2 per cent so far today, with the exception of Westpac (WBC) which is down 0.1 per cent as it trades ex-dividend. WBC will pay eligible investors a 31 cent dividend on 18 December. While this is significantly smaller than last year’s 8c dividend, it still is around 1.7 per cent of its share price.

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is up 2.2 per cent after handing down first quarter results this morning. Cash profit fell by 16 per cent to $1.8bn. While there was a solid lift in new home and business loans together with deposits, record low interest rates continue to negatively impact margins. The number of loan deferrals due to the pandemic dropped by ~60 per cent in October to 52,000. This compares to ~210,000 deferrals in June.

Computershare (CPU) is lifting and has affirmed its earnings guidance for FY21 despite the US foreclosure moratorium extension to 31 December. This will weigh on its US Mortgage Services revenue in the second half.

Woodside (WPL) is lifting by 3.1 per cent and continues to benefit from firmer oil prices. The price of oil rose by almost 3 per cent last night and 8.5 per cent a day earlier (best day of 2020). With all energy companies sensitive to oil price moves, the positive vaccine news has provided a big boost to energy prices and oil and gas producing companies. WPL is holding an Investor Day with shareholders today.

With markets more upbeat, some of the biggest losers today are defensive gold miners, some retailers which have experienced strong demand during the pandemic (JBH, SUL) and healthcare stocks (RHC, SHL).

2.1bn shares have changed hands so far today worth a hefty $4.1bn which is significantly above average at this time of the day. 756 stocks are up, 428 are down and 353 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec