While US shares traded higher on Friday evening, and the S&P 500 set a new closing record, ASX futures again ignored the strong lead, edging fractionally lower ahead of the new trading week. However, with a series of high-profile stocks like Fortescue Metals, Afterpay and Woolworths reporting this week, sentiment in these three highly popular companies could set the tone for the rest of the market. US futures have also opened higher this morning, which could provide a boost to investor confidence to start the week.
Economic calendar and news
The only major news item on the Australian economic calendar this week is construction work done. The quarterly reading is set to be released on Wednesday morning, with forecasts suggesting that the June quarter may be the worst result since the final quarter of 2017.
Overseas, US home sales and home prices data will outline the status of the American property market, which has defied the odds and held up well amid COVID-19. There will also be consumer confidence figures published, as well as the latest data on durable goods orders. Other key watch-points will be personal income and spending data, the latest number of jobless claims, and a second reading of Q2 GDP.
Perhaps the most important event of the week, however, will be the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole meeting. At the conclusion of the event, the US central bank is expected to provide commentary surrounding key economic policy, which is sure to have analysts listening closely.
ASX reporting spotlight and major movers
Some of this week’s upcoming earnings reports are shown below.
After a stellar year, Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has delivered shareholders a significant final dividend of $1 per share. The iron ore miner has capped off a huge FY20, where its share price leapt more than 50%, posting record shipments, revenue, earnings and cashflow. With iron ore prices still on the rise over recent weeks and now heading towards US$130 a tonne, the company has also kicked off the new financial year strongly.
Later in the week, Afterpay (ASX: APT) and Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) will publish their earnings for FY20. The buy-now pay-later segment has been one of the biggest beneficiaries amid COVID-19, with a significant shift to e-commerce driving explosive growth in the stocks from this sector. An update from Afterpay last week showed that the category leader has experienced lower net transaction losses than anticipated, with its EBITDA set to be higher than forecast.
Utilities and real estate businesses will also be in the spotlight this week. This includes the likes of Spark Infrastructure (ASX: SKI), APA Group (ASX: APA), Scentre Group (ASX: SCG) and Stockland (ASX: SGP). While utility providers have rebounded strongly in the wake of COVID-19 thanks to their defensive business models, shopping centre operators have had numerous challenges to deal with as lockdowns stifle foot traffic and commercial tenants renegotiate lease arrangements.
Woolworths (ASX: WOW) will hope to receive a positive reception when it reports its results on Thursday. After its supermarket rival Coles (ASX: COL) delivered results last week, showing comparable sales growth of 5.9% across the year thanks to panic buying and pantry stocking, expectations are high for Woolworths to also deliver a solid increase in sales.
Elsewhere, some of the stocks flying high at the moment include Wesfarmers (ASX: WES), REA Group (ASX: REA), Domino’s (ASX: DMP), Megaport (ASX: MP1) and Codan (ASX: CDA). Each stock reached an all-time high last week, with reporting season proving favourable for all of these companies.
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