Markets Week Ahead: Fortescue Metals, Pfizer and Airbnb to keep investors watching

Markets Week Ahead: Fortescue Metals, Pfizer and Airbnb to keep investors watching

This morning, futures suggest the Australian share market is looking at its first subdued start to the week in some time.

With Pfizer’s vaccine receiving emergency use authorisation over the weekend, the market will now turn to other outstanding matters, including the prospect of a stimulus package in the US, the Federal Reserve’s final meeting for the year, and Australian unemployment data for November.

Watch out for a rush of local IPOs making their debut this week, plus the first full week of trading in newly-listed Airbnb.


Economic calendar and news

On the radar of most Australian market-watchers this week is national jobs data. The preliminary forecast from surveyed economists suggests that 50,000-60,000 jobs may have been added last month, well below that seen in October. Nonetheless, expectations point to a steady unemployment rate of 7% on account of an expected uptick in the participation rate.

Also on the calendar this week will be the RBA minutes from the most-recent Board meeting, which are not anticipated to showcase any particular surprises. There will also be flash data on manufacturing and services activity for December thus far, a barometer that has been showing signs of steady growth in each of the last six months.

In the US, the Federal Reserve will meet one final time for 2020. The emphasis of that meeting is centred on whether the central bank adjusts its bond-buying activity, be it an increase or decrease. To date, however, this mechanism has been one of the central support pillars giving confidence to the market, so any changes at this time might be considered nervy for some investors.

Elsewhere, there will be data on industrial production, manufacturing activity, services output, housing starts, jobless claims and finally, retail sales for November, which are tipped to show signs of a slowdown. All this, however, may deflect attention back on Congress, which continues to squabble over the particulars of what many consider is a much-needed stimulus package.


Airbnb finally made its stock market debut last week


Major movers

After its vaccine for COVID-19 was given emergency use authorisation by the FDA, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) will be the talk of the town given the company’s breakthrough. While the green light was largely expected by the market over the last few weeks, the next driver for the stock will be how well the company is able to manage the manufacturing process and meet global demand.

Another US stock that will attracting media attention for a while yet is Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB), which completed its long-awaited IPO last week. On its opening day of trade shares in the peer-to-peer accommodation platform soared around 112%, and with only two days of trading under its belt, there is likely to be volatility in the stock throughout the week as it finds its place.

With iron ore prices still showing signs of strength, there are plenty of stocks in this sector that are full of momentum. Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) enters the trading week having set an all-time high last week, as is the case for its smaller peers, Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) and Champion Iron (ASX: CIA).

Meanwhile, Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and BHP (ASX: BHP) have reclaimed 52-week highs, with their own all-time highs in sight. One development to watch will be news over the weekend that the China Iron & Steel Association has been pressing BHP on the soaring prices of iron ore, which comes at a time when Australia-China trade tension is already high.

The strength of Thursday’s ABS jobs data could also prove a gauge for how employment portal Seek (ASX: SEK) is faring, with the stock also reaching an all-time high last week as optimism builds over the economic recovery.

Last week’s positive trading update from Eagers Automotive (ASX: APE) helped propel the stock to a 52-week high. It came at a time where the new car industry arrested its 31-month slide in sales.

Annual general meetings are scheduled for Elders (ASX: ELD), Nufarm (ASX: NUF) and Incitec Pivot (ASX: IPL), with shareholders hoping to avoid any unfortunate trading update shocks before the market quietens for the holiday season. In other corporate news, shareholders in Infratil (ASX: IFT) and Link (ASX: LNK) will be looking out for any updates on their respective takeover offers.

Last but not least, a glimpse at the IPO calendar sees several confirmed names, plus some others on standby to list in the week ahead:

  • Gold and nickel explorer Errawarra Resources (ASX: ERW), listing today;
  • Electricity and telecoms infrastructure builder GenusPlus Group (ASX: GNP), listing today;
  • Cloud-based computing services provider Sovereign Cloud Holdings (ASX: SOV), listing today;
  • Specialty financier Liberty Financial Group (ASX: LFG), due tomorrow;
  • Food, neutraceuticals and skin care business Live Verdure (ASX: LV1), set for tomorrow;
  • Online luxury goods retailer Cettire (ASX: CTT), anticipated Friday;
  • Mobile games developer PlaySide Studios (ASX: PLY), expected Friday


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