Markets Week Ahead: Pressure to mount on travel stocks as border closures return

Markets Week Ahead: Pressure to mount on travel stocks as border closures return

ASX futures are pointing to an uncertain start for the local stock market this morning, with the ASX 200 entering the week having notched up seven consecutive weekly returns.

Over the weekend, Moderna received emergency use authorisation from the US FDA to begin the roll-out of its vaccine, however, amid a COVID outbreak across Sydney, there is sure to be considerable focus on whether authorities can contain the virus.

Meanwhile, iron ore prices continued marching higher into the weekend, while border closures with NSW and the reverberation of A2 Milk’s earnings downgrade could still be felt over the coming days.


Economic calendar and news

In what is a shortened trading week, preliminary retail sales for November happens to be one of the only local data releases scheduled over the coming days before the holiday break.

In the US, investors are eagerly awaiting the formal conclusion of a stimulus deal, with progress inching closer towards a resolution over the weekend. In the meantime, however, Congress struck a deal to allow President Trump to extend funding and avoid a shutdown, but that deal comes with its own deadline just hours away, tied in with stimulus negotiations.



Major movers

A week after its peer received emergency use approval for its COVID vaccine, Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) was also greeted with the same news heading into the weekend. The stock shed 10.6% last week, having rallied more than 60% in the space of a couple weeks, suggesting traders took profits in anticipation of a pullback.

Elsewhere, shares in Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) last week hit their highest level since the start of September. The iconic tech giant is reportedly understood to be seeking to increase its iPhone production by almost 30% in the first half of next year, looking at manufacturing up to 96 million units across its popular phone line-up.

Closer to home, ASX tech stocks have been performing strongly and taking confidence from the positive leads of the Nasdaq index. Tech stocks proved one of the prevailing winners when past lockdowns were in effect, however, that remains to be seen with a part of Sydney now in lockdown, and the risk that could expand further. As it so happens, the likes of Afterpay (ASX: APT), REA Group (ASX: REA) and Seek (ASX: SEK) each hit new all-time highs last week.

Meanwhile, local travel stocks look set to face a new headwind as states around the country shut their borders to New South Wales. Some of the names likely to be impacted include Flight Centre (ASX: FLT), Webjet (ASX: WEB) and Qantas (ASX: QAN). Not only might bookings be stifled amid travel restrictions, but cancellations and refunds are a distinct likelihood as well.

The recovery in the stock price of Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD) began to wane last week in light of news surrounding the COVID cluster, while any doubts surrounding the mooted travel bubble with New Zealand could impact Auckland International Airport (ASX: AIA) and Air New Zealand (ASX: AIZ).

After a second and enormous revision to its revenue and margin guidance, A2 Milk (ASX: A2M) is still likely to be in the news this week as investors weigh up whether the stock is a bargain or has further to fall. It’s also likely that a series of updates will be published by various brokers that cover the stock. As a result of lower demand from A2 Milk for consumer-packaged infant formula volumes, Synlait Milk (ASX: SM1) has also taken an axe to its NPAT forecast for FY21.

Another strong rise in the price of iron ore could help miners from this segment like Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) entrench their impressive rally. Iron ore prices gained almost 4% last Friday to finish the week above US$164/tonne.

A host of Blackrock funds trade ex-dividend this week, including popular names like iShares S&P 500 ETF (ASX: IVV) and iShares Global 100 ETF (ASX: IOO). Dividend investors will also have their eyes trained on Metcash (ASX: MTS), with the wholesale distributor trading ex-dividend on Tuesday, offering a fully-franked dividend of $0.08 per share.

And rounding things out, this year’s IPO candidates aren’t finished yet, with a few more names eyeing a debut this week.

  • Gold and base metals explorer Rincon Resources (ASX: RCR), listing today;
  • Canadian gold explorer Benz Mining Corp (ASX: BNZ), scheduled Wednesday;
  • Buy-now pay-later business Payright (ASX: PYR), unconfirmed, but expected Wednesday


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