While ASX futures are suggesting the market could claw back much of Friday afternoon’s losses at the opening bell, investors will be on edge regarding the latest health updates regarding US President Donald Trump. The Federal Budget and the RBA rate decision also both loom as potential factors that may influence local stocks this week.
Economic calendar and news
Locally, the biggest item on the agenda this week will be the Australian budget delivered on Tuesday evening. Economists expect that the government will unveil the largest deficit in decades, with forecasts suggesting the blowout may exceed $200 billion. A raft of measures are anticipated to be announced in an effort to kick-start the economy amid the impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns.
Last week the government signalled that it would set aside an additional $1.5 billion for manufacturing, targeting the priority areas of resources technology and minerals processing, medical products, food and beverage, recycling and clean energy, space, and defence.
Other proposals flagged include an upgrade to the NBN, adjustments to fringe benefits taxes, tourism funding and the previously detailed changes to responsible lending legislation. Market pundits will also be looking closely at proposed income tax cuts, infrastructure spending, industry subsidies, and jobs initiatives.
Earlier that day, the RBA will meet for its October Board meeting. After RBA Deputy Governor Guy Debelle indicated the central bank’s concerns around the progress of the economic recovery, and also touched on some of the policy tools available at its disposal, there has been a growing shift among economists who expect the RBA to cut rates to 0.1%. The market has in recent days shifted its timing of this expectation to the November Board meeting, however, an early cut could provide support to ASX shares.
In the US, weaker-than-expected unemployment data released on Friday evening could add some urgency to stimulus negotiations, however, attention will no doubt be centred on the condition of US President Donald Trump following his COVID diagnosis and subsequent hospitalisation. The Fed Reserve will also publish its most-recent minutes, with several members of the central bank set to provide speeches throughout the week.
ASX major movers
Following a sharp slide in the NASDAQ on Friday evening, tech shares may see volatility return to kick off the week. ASX tech stocks dived in the minutes after President Trump’s COVID diagnosis hit headlines, erasing earlier gains amid the risk-off response.
Travel shares such as Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) and Air New Zealand (ASX: AIZ) could still find some buying support, despite the sector-wide rally last week being mitigated by negative sentiment surrounding the news relating to Donald Trump. Nonetheless, with the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble now locked in for a start date, and other states across Australia on track to ease border restrictions, there may be some consensus that the sector is behind the ‘worst’ of it.
With oil prices continuing to slide after the ASX closed for trading on Friday, energy stocks may also be in for a sluggish start to the week. This sector was one of the worst-performing segments last week, with names like Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) and Oil Search (ASX: OSH) hit hard. These names are again likely to be on watch, while on the other side of the spectrum, the price of gold and gold shares will be a key barometer over the coming days amid political uncertainty.
Elsewhere, furniture business Nick Scali (ASX: NCK) will trade ex-dividend this morning, courtesy of a fully-franked dividend distribution of 22.5 cents per share. It will be joined by ARB Corporation (ASX: ARB) and Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN), which will also trade ex-dividend on Thursday and Friday respectively.
Despite the poor performance of the broader market last week, shareholders saw new 52-week highs for Xero (ASX: XRO), Reece (ASX: REH), Netwealth (ASX: NWL), Premier Investments (ASX: PMV), Codan (ASX: CDA), Hub24 (ASX: HUB) and Macquarie Telecom Group (ASX: MAQ). In fact, all of these stocks bar Premier Investments recorded a new all-time high, which was at odds to Telstra (ASX: TLS), the only high-profile name to feature on the list of stocks that hit a 52-week low.
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