S&P/ASX 200 morning report – CGF & AMP

The Australian share market and the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) index is expected to open slightly higher on Friday morning, with the SPI futures pointing to a 12-point open.

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Thursday recap – more capital raisings

Australia’s ASX 200 pared early gains to finish Thursday down just 0.1% for the day as a swath of updates and further capital raisings filtered through the market.

AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) announced a further 13% fall in assets under management in their wealth business for the quarter, primarily driven by weak market performances.

For AMP Capital, the firm’s real asset business, the performance was markedly better falling just 5.3%. Similarly, annuities seller Challenger Ltd (ASX: CGF) reaffirmed first-half profit at around $550 million, but noted domestic annuity sales were down 10% on the previous period. Global sales which include Japanese operations grew 9% to $949 million.

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Is grocery hoarding paying off?

In somewhat of a surprise, retail sales hit their strongest mark in recorded history growing 8.2% in March. The result was driven by grocery store sales and the disappointing but highly publicised hoarding of basic goods and food. Experts expect a similarly large weakness in April suggesting this growth is simply not sustainable.

Economic indicator PMIs were mixed with the services gauge halving to around 19.6 from 38.5, as mass retail shutdowns hit the economy. Manufacturing was a more positive 45.6 versus 49.7 previously.

US markets par gains overnight

Most global markets finished positive on Thursday, with the FTSE and Eurostoxx adding under 1% due to a strong lead from Wall Street.

US markets closed flat with a rebound in the oil price to $15 per barrel offsetting a leaked report suggested Gilead’s COVID-19 vaccine test had underperformed. The US remains the heart of the outbreak, with another 4 million people applying for unemployment benefits in the previous week, taking the five-week total to 26.5 million.

This coincided with the US Government approving another $500 billion stimulus package.

Interestingly, the market volatility saw Americans deposit over $1 trillion into their bank accounts over the month with JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup receiving more than half of it.

Drew Meredith is a financial adviser and writer for The Inside Investor.

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