A morning win gave way to an afternoon fall on the ASX today after the United States recorded its worst day for COVID-19 yet.
Gains were tentative in the morning as the US federal election looms, but things turned sour when it was revealed the US recorded upwards of 83,000 new coronavirus cases per day on Friday and Saturday.
Not even news that Melbourne retail and hospitality will re-open on Wednesday could spur the market on, and the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index retreated a slight 0.18 per cent to closed at 6155.6 points.
It was a split down the middle among our ASX sectors today, with five sectors closing red and six closing green. Unfortunately, our two heavyweight sectors — materials and financials — weighed the red side down further than the green.
Our iron ore miners led the retreat among the materials sector. Rio Tinto took the wooden spoon today with a 0.78 per cent fall, while Fortescue and BHP lost 0.66 per cent and 0.75 per cent, respectively.
Of course, steady declines on the gold subsector did nothing to help the red day. Regis Resources and St Barbara each lost over 3 per cent, while Northern Star retreated 0.95 per cent and Saracen lost 1.35 per cent. Sector leader Newcrest Mining lost 0.62 per cent.
As for the financials sector, our big four banks were all red today. NAB kept the sector subdued with a 1.02 per cent loss, while Westpac closed 0.43 per cent up. ANZ lost 0.51 per cent and Commonwealth Bank lost 0.27 per cent. Investment banking giant Macquarie Group gained 0.2 per cent.
Consumer staples stocks were today’s top performers, spurred on by a massive 16.28 per cent gain from Coca Cola Amatil. More on that below. Treasury Wine closed 0.67 per cent higher and Blackmore closed 1.23 per cent higher. Our supermarket giants, however, were mixed. Woolworths closed 0.05 per cent higher and Coles closed 0.47 per cent lower.
Healthcare helped fight off the worst of the losses as CSL, the biggest stock on the ASX, gained 0.4 per cent. Hearing aid giant Cochlear tacked on 1.05 per cent, but a 1.46 per cent fall from Fisher and Paykel Healthcare offset the win.
Across the Pacific, it’s a mixed day for major Asian indexes. As the ASX closes for the day, the Asia Dow is down 0.24 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 is down 0.12 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, on the other hand, is up 0.54 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite is down 0.69 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is slightly weaker against the US dollar today and slightly stronger against the Pound sterling. One dollar currently buys 71.19 US cents, 54.66 pence, and 11.57 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Soft drink staple Coca Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) surged today after Coke’s European arm lobbed a $9.28 billion takeover bid for its Australian counterpart. If the deal goes ahead, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) will snap up a near-70 per cent stake in CCL, with the brand’s international parent company, The Coca-Cola Company, controlling the rest. The CCEP bid values CCL at $12.75 per share. CCL shares closed 16.28 per cent higher at $12.59 each today.
While several new-listers have had a warm welcome to the ASX over the past few weeks, the latest buy now, pay later addition to the market was greeted with a cold reception today. US-based Zebit (ASX:ZBT) debuted on the local share market today with a $35 million initial public offering (IPO). However, the company lost a third of its value in its first trading session as it tries to grab a chunk of an increasingly saturated market. Shares that were worth $1.58 on listing closed 33.9 per cent lower and worth $1.04.