S&P/ASX 200 (XJO) set to open flat, ASX shares to watch

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) share market index is likely to open flat this morning. Here’s the ASX news you need to know.

The recovery begins?

The ASX 200 experienced its best day in over seven weeks on Tuesday, adding 2.9% to 5,780 points, with all sectors increasing. The Australian share market has now regained 31.2% from its March lows.

It was a similar story with the S&P 500, up close to 3% mid-session, only to capitulate in the final hour of trade following the threat of Chinese sanctions — the market finished up 1.2%. This likely provides a weaker lead for the Australian market this morning.

The strength in the local market was generally driven by the perceived higher risk of more cyclical companies, including small caps, energy and travel-related businesses. Flight Centre Travel Ltd (ASX: FLT) for instance rallied another 9.5% and Boeing Inc. 5%. European markets provided a similar leading, improving 1.1% as traffic flows and activity begin to recover.

Resilience in markets despite the economic pain

Resilience comes in many forms, adaptability is one of them.

Despite the threat of Amazon (AMZN) entering Australia, followed by bushfires and now a pandemic, online retailer Kogan.com Ltd (ASX: KGN), hit an all-time high, benefitting from insatiable demand for their low cost, fast-delivery consumer and electronic goods. They seem to have outmaneuvered Amazon, for now. However, I’m not confident the market nor margins can be sustained on the other side of the COVID-19 recovery.

Myer Holdings (ASX: MYR) was similarly up a further 12% as further store openings continued, but with a number of well-publicised department store bankruptcies in the US, the big-box format offers little in the way of comfort to me.

Job Maker

The Federal Government announced its latest policy with an eye to moving on from the pandemic, dubbed Job Maker, with a key focus on working together with the unions as well as improving the vocational training sector. It is clear the economy is halfway over the cliff, with the now infamous Job Keeper program the only savior at this point.

After years of cost-cutting, businesses will see costs increase overnight and respond by cutting or ‘right-sizing’ staff levels. The threat of renegotiated leases, mass delinquencies and higher unemployment has not deterred property owners such as Unibail Aramco (URW) or Vicinity Centres, the former rallying 12.7% and the latter 5.6% as restrictions are eased. I remain wary of the concept of ever-increasing rents and suggest most commercial property owners are facing steep valuation ‘resets’ post-COVID 19.

The daily report is written by Drew Meredith, Financial Adviser and Director of Wattle Partners.

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