Investment Solutions


Investment Solutions


Investment Solutions


ASX Share Market Outlook 2020

Rene Anthony

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

After a strong performance by the ASX stock market in 2019, we take a look ahead to some of the key questions that investors will be weighing up while investing in shares during 2020.

After a strong performance by the ASX stock market in 2019, we take a look ahead to some of the key questions that investors will be weighing up while investing in shares during 2020.

With a record year coming to a close, investors are now looking ahead to 2020. While there is mixed opinion as to how the ASX will perform in the year ahead, there is no shortage of considerations that could have profound ramifications on whether the market extends its all-time high. If you plan to continue investing in shares in 2020, you may want to ask yourself these questions.

Will the RBA slash interest rates further?

After interest rates were cut three times during 2019, rates are firmly sitting at an all-time low. With the Australian economy still showing signs of sluggishness, many analysts think the RBA may reduce interest rates further in order to kick-start economic growth.Furthermore, speculation has emerged in recent weeks that the RBA could consider quantitative easing. RBA Governor Philip Lowe has cited this outcome if additional interest rate cuts fail to ignite the economy. Interest rate cuts typically have a stimulatory effect for stock markets, however, if a recession takes hold first, it could weigh on investor sentiment.

Is the trade war really over?

The US and China recently reached an interim trade deal that will ease the hostilities that have plagued both nations over the last 18 months. While shares have responded favourably to the news, the two sides still need to put pen to paper.

If the interim deal is respected by both nations, it may have a beneficial effect for their respective economies. However, there is also the risk that trade tension can resurface. If this were to happen, it could reintroduce volatility since investors have priced a trade ceasefire' into share markets.

[caption id="attachment_2605" align="aligncenter" width="525"]

Will easing trade hostilities last throughout 2020?[/caption]

Are there any other skeletons in the closet of the Big Four?

It quite remarkable that 2019 was a standout year for the ASX, yet the Big Four banks' contributed little towards that feat. The high-profile failures of Westpac (ASX: WBC) have been publicised in detail, however, each of the other majors drew scrutiny from authorities at various points. With new revelations still coming through, the market will be watching closely whether there are any more skeletons in the closet that might add fuel to the fire. Bank shares are likely to be a divisive topic in 2020 as the risks of huge fines and potential dividend cuts hang over these stocks. As they are part of the financial sector, which accounts for 29.7% of the ASX, further weakness could weigh on the stock market. On the other hand, if contrarian investors see value in bank shares, it could act as a catalyst for the ASX given the sizeable contribution of this sector towards the market.

Has the iron ore price peaked?

A surging iron ore price helped major mining shares like Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) perform strongly throughout 2019. At one stage, the commodity reached a five-year high, topping US$120 per tonne at the start of July.The spike in iron ore has been a strong driver for the ASX stock market, with each of the major iron ore miners delivering bumper profits. As the market comes to terms with supply and demand forecasts for the commodity, the direction of iron ore prices in 2020 is likely to have a strong influence on broader market performance.[caption id="attachment_2606" align="aligncenter" width="525"]

Mining shares helped the ASX to a record high. Will iron ore prices remain strong?[/caption]

Will the buy-now-pay-later segment face increased regulation?

Following the meteoric rise of Afterpay (ASX: APT) and ZipPay (ASX: Z1P), the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) segment has in some ways become a victim of its own success. Although a series of potential threats' have failed to dent the soaring growth of shares in the BNPL segment thus far, a new can of worms is on the agenda in 2020. The RBA has signalled that it will conduct a review of merchant surcharge fees.Existing rules prevent merchants passing on related-transaction costs to customers, which are estimated at about 3-6% of the cost of each transaction. Although operators in this segment are increasingly turning their attention to international expansion, the prospect of merchants being able to levy surcharges to recoup fees is something that could shape sentiment in a segment that has grown exponentially in recent years and contributed to an outperforming IT sector.

Could a series of new tech unicorn shares emerge?

A few weeks ago the ASX announced that it will launch a new index in February, the S&P/ASX All Technology Index, which will consist of all technology shares trading on the ASX. Observers are likely to keep an eye on whether small-cap tech stocks get a boost in publicity as a result of the exposure, and whether increased accessibility helps the tech sector continue its stellar run.

The ASX may also become a popular trading ground for early-stage ipos, with many industry insiders expecting an increase in the number of companies that seek a listing on the local share market.

[caption id="attachment_2607" align="aligncenter" width="525"]

Will the All Tech Index help a new tech unicorn emerge into the spotlight?[/caption]

Could there be political risk on the horizon?

The US stock market is currently pricing in the prospect that President Trump may survive impeachment proceedings and head towards re-election at the end of 2020, like the majority of past US presidents. Should both events proceed as per the market expectations, shares will likely be influenced by economic growth and corporate earnings.As we've seen in recent times, however, nothing is exactly certain in the political realm. If a surprise outcome were to arise, markets all over the world could be caught off-guard by the shock and uncertainty of such a result. Political risk will be a watch-point for many investors in 2020 because despite a low probability, the impact on shares could be significant.

Awareness is everything

These are just some of the key questions that investors will be considering while investing in shares across the coming 12 months. The answers to some of these questions may become apparent early in the year, whereas others could remain unclear for some time. Nonetheless, a range of catalysts and headwinds have the potential to influence the ASX and should be included in your New Year trading plan.

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