The local stock market fell 3.9% this week to finish on 5,927.60 points, weighed down by surging COVID cases that have led some European countries to enforce strict lockdown measures once again. Also dragging on sentiment was political uncertainty ahead of next week’s US presidential election, and the absence of any deal to inject fresh stimulus into the world’s largest economy.
Which shares excelled?
Two of the best-performing stocks this week were buoyed by merger and acquisitions activity, with takeover offers lobbed at two ASX 50 companies.
Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL) leapt 15.6% higher on news that its European peer, Coca-Cola European Partners, has launched a takeover bid for the company. With the offer valued at $12.75 per share, the stock traded sharply higher this week. The size of the takeover amounts to $9.3 billion for the 69.2% stake that is currently held beyond parent business, The Coca-Cola Company.
Meanwhile, AMP (ASX: AMP) was also caught up in the corporate activity frenzy, with US private equity company Ares Management Corporation signalling its interest. The offshore entity submitted an indicative, non-binding and conditional proposal to acquire the company in full, a short time after speculation had emerged that AMP could be ‘broken up’ and sold as separate divisions. By the end of the week, AMP shares had surged 12.5%.
Shares in Blackmores (ASX: BKL) were on the move higher this week. It came after the company’s annual general meeting, where management spoke positively regarding sales growth in early FY21. Group Net Sales growth has been in the low double digits since the start of the new financial year, helped by sales in international markets.
The latest reporting information from Champion Iron (ASX: CIA) helped ignite its share price, with the stock climbing 10.9% across recent days. During the September quarter the miner delivered records for production, net income and net cash flow, largely supported by firm iron ore prices over the period.
ResMed (ASX: RMD) ended the week on a high note thanks to its upbeat quarterly report. During the first quarter of FY21 the health care company and ventilator manufacturer delivered a 10% increase in revenue to US$751.9 million, while net operating profit spiked 27% to US$216.9 million.
Making up the list of the top-performers this week were other names like Steadfast Group (ASX: SDF), Polynovo (ASX: PNV), Hub24 (ASX: HUB), Sims (ASX: SGM) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG), which all bucked the trend to deliver modest returns.
Which shares dragged on the market?
With COVID cases soaring across most parts of the world, and cold water poured over any notion that Australia’s state borders might reopen quickly, travel stocks were savaged. From booking agents like Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD), Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) and Webjet (ASX: WEB), to airlines like Qantas (ASX: QAN) and airports such as Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD), the share prices of each of the major names were hit hard this week.
There was also weakness for some gold stocks after the precious metal approached its post-August low. With the US recording better-than-expected GDP growth in the third quarter, and delays to further stimulus that might otherwise spark inflation, the commodity was somewhat on the back foot this week. That dragged on companies like OceanaGold Corporation (ASX: OGC), Regis Resources (ASX: RRL) and AngloGold Ashanti (ASX: AGG).
Digital payments companies were also under stress amid tech weakness from overseas markets. Shares in Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) sagged to the tune of 15.1%, while Sezzle (ASX: SZL) and EML Payments (ASX: EML) also both recorded sizeable losses. Sector favourite Afterpay (ASX: APT) fared better on the back of its quarterly update showing triple-digit growth in underlying sales, however, the stock still ended the week down 5.3%.
Last but not least, energy stocks cratered amid a weakness in the price of oil driven by COVID lockdowns in Europe and record-high daily COVID cases in the US. Stocks such as Beach Energy (ASX: BPT), Oil Search (ASX: OSH), Santos (ASX: STO) and Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) felt the impact most, weighing on the ASX.
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great weekend!
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