In a shortened trading week, the ASX managed to edge higher last week as easing trade tension opens the door to the prospect of an improving global economy. Confidence was also sparked by data out of China showing industrial profits grew at their fastest rate in eight months. While the ASX 200 posted a gain of 0.1%, the All Ordinaries fared slightly better, rising 0.2% to 6,936.30 points.
Which shares excelled?
Gold shares put in a strong showing as the precious metal rose to its highest price since the beginning of November.
Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR) led the way with an increase of 15.1%. On Friday, the company announced that one of its subsidiaries would be withdrawing from a joint venture agreement with Cygnus Gold (ASX: CY5) in relation to a set of mining tenements at Wadderin.
Next in line was Resolute Mining (ASX: RSG) and Silverlake Resources (ASX: SLR), up 12.8% and 11.3% respectively. They were joined by a host of other gold miners and explorers, which all saw their share prices rise by low-to-mid single-digit percentage gains last week.
Elsewhere, Afterpay (ASX: APT) recorded a sharp increase, rising 4.5% despite the absence of any price-sensitive news. Given mixed expectations for retail expenditure over the holiday season, some investors may be positioning for a positive trading update.
Rounding out the top-performing shares, Bega Cheese (ASX: BGA) climbed 5.8% after the dairy company announced its executive chairman Barry Irvin would return from medical leave to resume the role in January.
An increasing gold price drove the segment higher last week
Which shares dragged on the market?
The drop-off in trading volume meant there weren’t too many stocks sold down sharply last week.
Despite a relief rally on Friday, Nearmap (ASX: NEA) was one of the worst-performing stocks as the company shed 3.8% of its value across the three trading days. There wasn’t any specific news attached to the lacklustre share performance, however, the level of short interest in the stock has steadily increased since the beginning of the year.
Another stock that lagged its peers was Orica (ASX: ORI). The commercial explosives provider declined by 2%. Nevertheless, the company’s shares are up by 32.5% over the last year, suggesting shareholders are unlikely to be too despondent after last week’s minor slip-up.
Other trading developments
Travel service provider Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD) was in the news as it unveiled plans for a USD 36 million acquisition. The business is looking to take control of US-based Corporate Travel Planners via a cash and scrip offer. If the transaction goes ahead, it would be executed on a forecast multiple of 6x FY20 net profit before tax. Shares in Corporate Travel Management were largely unmoved by the news, ending the week flat.
Corporate Travel Management is eyeing growth via acquisition
This week’s trading outlook
This week is also set to be interrupted by shorter trading hours, with the ASX expected to open modestly lower based on futures and a flat US trading session on Friday.
Local manufacturing PMI data will be released on Thursday morning, albeit this is not expected to shape ASX trading, particularly with lighter holiday trading volumes. The more relevant manufacturing data will come out of China on Tuesday and Thursday. This data is likely to have an influence on the direction of the broader market, and more specifically, iron ore mining shares.
Another possible sector to watch might be energy stocks, with oil at its highest level since mid-September. West Texas Intermediate oil has surged 11.8% during December so far. The commodity has found strength amid subsiding trade angst, OPEC production limits and falling oil stockpiles in the US.
Companies like Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL), Oil Search (ASX: OSH) and Beach Energy (ASX: BPT) are those which could see some volume return to the fold. This interest may be swayed by data on US crude oil stocks due to be released on Wednesday, when the local market will be closed. One other potential beneficiary from interest in this sector is Santos (ASX: STO), which is currently trading near a 5-year high.
Numerous real estate investment trusts will trade ex-dividend on Monday morning, which is likely to weigh on the performance of this sector. Some of these shares include BWP Trust (ASX: BWP), Dexus (ASX: DXS), Goodman Group (ASX: GMG), Charter Hall (ASX: CHC) and many more. From the industrials sector, Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD) and Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) will also trade ex-dividend.
Among those companies currently at record prices, Super Retail Group (ASX: SUL) is trading at a 52-week high, with the $2 billion-plus company currently priced at $10.40 per share. Most stocks trading at their 52-week low are small-cap companies, however, blue-chip names like Brambles (ASX: BXB) and Treasury Wines (ASX: TWE) are currently trading at their monthly lows.
Oil and energy businesses are in focus as the oil price trends higher
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great week!
SelfWealth Ltd ACN 52 154 324 428 (“SelfWealth”) (Australian Financial Services Licence Number 421789). The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. Taxation, legal and other matters referred to on this website are of a general nature only and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice.