In a volatile week of trade, the local market ended the week slightly lower. Investors mulled an assortment of news including the government’s decision to extend the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs past September, increasing COVID cases, Australia’s record budget deficit, the buoyant Australian dollar and escalating tension between the US and China. The ASX 200 closed the week on 6,024 points, down 0.16%.
Which shares excelled?
Mid-cap gold miners performed strongly this week as the price of gold raced towards US$1900/oz. Leading the way were companies such as Resolute Mining (ASX: RSG), OceanaGold Corporation (ASX: OGC), Silver Lake Resources (ASX: SLR) and Westgold Resources (ASX: WGX). As investors continue to fret about the state of the global economy, as well as money printing from the US Federal Reserve, funds continue to flow through to physical gold due to its status as a safe-haven asset.
Continuing their volatile trading of late, Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) and Sezzle (ASX: SZL) were among this week’s best-performing stocks. The duo rose 8.1% and 17.1% respectively, despite the absence of any price-sensitive news from either company. Investors may be speculating that extended lockdowns, stay-at-home measures and fiscal support initiatives, both here and in the US, could drive further growth in e-commerce transactions.
AP Eagers (ASX: APE) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD) both had positive weeks, rising 16.8% and 5.4% respectively, although neither company had news to report to the market. Meanwhile, Tabcorp (ASX: TAH) was also in the spotlight as an outperformer, with the company announcing its new chairman, Steven Gregg, and also the forthcoming retirement of its CEO, David Attenborough.
A trading update from QBE Insurance Group (ASX: QBE) helped spark its shares to life. Australia’s largest global insurer, the company reported renewal rate increases averaging 8.7% during the half compared with 4.7% in the corresponding period last year. Although the insurer continues to book large COVID-related costs, and expects to report a first-half statutory loss of $750 million, shareholders responded positively to management’s comments suggesting an improvement in overseas premium rate movements throughout the half. QBE shares gained 11% this week.
Fortunes were split between insurers QBE and IAG this week
Which shares dragged on the market?
Some of the market’s worst-performing shares this week included the likes of Alumina (ASX: AWC), Brambles (ASX: BXB) and CSR (ASX: CSR). Despite coming in at the bottom end of the list, none of the companies handed down news to the market this week, however, the impact of the rising Australian dollar may be concerning shareholders given each of the trio report in US dollars.
Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) was another insurer under the microscope as it provided an update on its FY20 results earlier today. With the company cancelling its final dividend, the announcement fell flat with shareholders. Underlying insurance margins are expected to be lower, down from 16.6% in FY19 to 16% in FY20. Management also indicated that they believe IAG’s profit will be 60% lower than last year, likely to come in at $435 million. IAG shares tanked 6%
Finally, shares in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) were under pressure, dropping 6%. In the wake of ongoing lockdowns and stay-at-home measures restricting foot traffic to its malls, as well as an accelerating shift to online shopping, the share price of the international shopping centre operator has largely been unable to mount a sustained rally in recent weeks. Also weighing on the company this week is URW’s exposure to a weaker US dollar, a factor that also tied down blue-chip heavyweights such as CSL (ASX: CSL) and BHP (ASX: BHP).
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great weekend!
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