Futures indicate that the Australian share market could lift at the open, despite US markets finishing in the red on Friday evening. However, weekend news of a national lockdown in the UK, as well as further angst surrounding the outcome of this week’s US presidential election could ensure that volatility is on the rise. Also this week will be the RBA’s penultimate board meeting for the year, in addition to US employment data from October.
Economic calendar and news
Investors and traders will be watching over one of the most eventful economic calendars in recent memory, with a slew of items on the agenda over the coming days.
At the top of that list is the US presidential election, which is shaping up as one of the most important in history, such is the stark contrast between the two candidates. There may be some jitters across global markets if there is an uncertain outcome in the days following the election, which includes the risk of a contested challenge via the Supreme Court.
Staying in the US, we’ll also play witness to the latest manufacturing activity data, factory orders, the Federal Reserve’s two-day interest rate meeting, trade data, and the latest unemployment figures.
The Fed Reserve is not expected to make any policy adjustments, however, should markets turn volatile in the wake of the election result, there is the likelihood it may seek to reinforce its dovish rhetoric. Consensus forecasts suggest US jobs continued to grow last month, with expectations the unemployment rate may have eased slightly.
On Tuesday the Reserve Bank of Australia will meet for its November board meeting. A large number of economists have tipped a rate cut may eventuate from the meeting, which could see the official cash rate lowered to 0.1%, alongside other potential fiscal initiatives. Elsewhere, the local economic calendar includes data on manufacturing, building permits, home loans, job advertisements, retail sales for September, as well as imports and exports.
ASX major movers
Seek (ASX: SEK) shares could see some wild movement this week if the company resumes trading following its halt late last week. The job advertisements platform was the target of an offshore ‘short’ fund that has claimed the company’s Chinese division, Zhaopin, allegedly features a high number of fake job listings that have been inflating Seek’s market cap.
Shares in Seek dived before a trading halt was called, which the company will use to address the allegation. In the past, stocks such as WiseTech Global (ASX: WTC) and Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF) have also been targeted in a similar manner, before ultimately recovering most of their losses.
Annual general meetings this week include Coles (ASX: COL), Treasury Wine Estates (ASX: TWE) and Cedar Woods Properties (ASX: CWP), to name but a few. However, Westpac’s (ASX: WBC) full-year results for 2020, unveiled this morning, are set to occupy the corporate calendar. The bank announced a 62% fall in full-year cash profit following the impact of AUSTRAC and bad debt provisions. One positive is that the bank has seen a considerable reduction in the number of home loan deferrals, down more than two-thirds from their peak. A final dividend of 31 cents per share has been declared.
Despite an easing in the Western Australian hard border, travel stocks may still face some turbulence this week on account of the soaring number of COVID cases occurring in other parts of the world. Adding to the woes of companies like Qantas (ASX: QAN), Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) and Webjet (ASX: WEB) is the ongoing border restriction between Greater Sydney and Queensland, however, speculation has also emerged that the NZ-Australia travel bubble could become a reciprocal arrangement in time for Christmas.
Shares in Bank of Queensland (ASX BOQ) will trade ex-dividend this week, on Wednesday. The regional bank declared a scaled-back dividend of 12 cents per share, fully-franked, which will be paid to shareholders on November 25, 2020.
With the IT sector savaged last week following a pullback in the Nasdaq, tech shares may once again be on watch as the election unfolds. Some of the US stock market’s biggest companies are highly leveraged to the election outcome, insofar as any volatility that rocks the broader market is likely to be driven by a handful of key tech names.
Shares in Telstra (ASX: TLS) and AGL (ASX: AGL) continued their dire run of form last week, as did Nufarm (ASX: NUF), each touching a new 52-week low. With more momentum in their favour, however, were Ansell (ASX: ANN), Hub24 (ASX: HUB) and Champion Iron (ASX: CIA), which all enter the new trading week on a high.
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