While tension between Iran and the US threatened to boil over last week, the ASX shrugged off those concerns and stormed higher to post a fresh all-time high. By the end of the trading week, the ASX 200 gained 2.9%, finishing at 6,929 points. Meanwhile, the All Ordinaries passed a significant milestone, climbing 2.7% to close at 7,041.9 points.
Which shares excelled?
Leading the local market’s charge last week was Vocus Group (ASX: VOC), which advanced 10.3%. In a sign of confidence for shareholders, the company’s Managing Director and CEO, Kevin Russell, increased his stake in the business by more than half a million dollars through an on-market purchase.
Elsewhere, Independence Group (ASX: IGO) was another strong performer thanks to a preliminary production report that surpassed the company’s guidance. The diversified mining and exploration firm recorded favourable results across a number of its divisions, prompting an 8.4% rise in the company’s shares.
Setting its sights on becoming the first company to reach a $300 share price, CSL (ASX: CSL) continued its stellar run with a gain of 7.9% last week. Although the blue-chip favourite has not released any news to the market in a month, investors appear bullish on its long-term growth prospects and the momentum the stock has carried over the last year.
Retailers were also afloat with a sea of green last week as news broke that retail sales growth from November was the best in two years. It meant businesses such as JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH), Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN) and Breville Group (ASX: BRG) all featured among the leading shares that gained last week.
Finally, while there were many other stocks that underpinned the market’s strength, one common sight was a rise in the share prices of building materials suppliers. With the devastating impact that the nation’s bushfires have had around the country, the market has repositioned towards the likes of Boral (ASX: BLD), CSR (ASX: CSR) and James Hardie (ASX: JHX), which rose 7.3%, 5.7% and 5.4% respectively.
Which shares dragged on the market?
At the other end of the spectrum, gold miners found themselves under selling pressure as the precious commodity eased from its early-week run. This shift came about as a result of a ‘calm’ response from the US following Iran’s missile attack on its military bases in Iraq. Anglogold Ashanti (ASX: AGG) dropped 5.3%, Regis Resources (ASX: RRL) fell 4.6%, Northern Star Resources (ASX: NST) slid 3.9% and Alacer Gold (ASX: AQG) declined 3.6%.
There were also poor results from well-known stocks Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) and Qantas (ASX: QAN), as investors took an opportunity to exit their positions in each company following rising share prices over the last several months. Shares in the two companies fell 4.7% and 2.6% respectively.
Another stock that slumped last week was recently-listed Tyro Payments (ASX: TYR), which shed 4.5% of its market cap. The company also did not release any news to the market, however, it has been trading on light volume since its IPO debut and subsequent run higher.
This week’s trading outlook
ASX Futures are indicating a sharp drop when local trading resumes this morning. This is because US markets took a breather in Friday’s late-night offshore session due to a lower-than-expected increase in job numbers across the country.
Home loan and sales data will occupy interest from local investors this week as the biggest news item on the agenda. Beyond the major lenders in the Big Four banks, this data could have implications on stocks such as Genworth Mortgage Insurance (ASX: GMA), Australian Finance Group (ASX: AFG) and Mortgage Choice (ASX: MOC). With each of these companies operations’ connected to the level of home loan lending activity, a surprise result could act as a catalyst for each business.
A large week looms ahead for data out of China, including everything from vehicle sales to imports, exports, lending activity, house prices, retail sales, industrial production, the trade balance and highly-anticipated GDP growth data. While the full ensemble of news will influence all sectors of the ASX, iron ore miners are expected to feel the full impact of the market’s reaction to the data.
There will also be similar sets of data emerging from the US, however, that is expected to play second fiddle to Wednesday night’s US-China phase one trade deal ceremony.
A long list of stocks enter this morning’s trading session currently priced at their 52-week high, led by CSL (ASX: CSL), Wesfarmers (ASX: WES), Resmed (ASX: RMD), Magellan Financial Group (ASX: MFG), Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL) and many other well-known household names.
Their fortunes contrast sharply to those of VGI Partners Global Investments (ASX: VG1), which is currently the largest-cap stock trading at its 52-week low, while Metcash (ASX: MTS) and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) enter the week at their respective monthly lows.
Last but not least, one trio of stocks that may be in for special attention this week are commodity players South32 (ASX: S32), Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) and Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL). Each of these companies are scheduled to release their quarterly reports on Thursday, 16 January, meaning there could be some trading opportunities for astute investors who can scrutinise the numbers closely.
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great week!
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