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S&P/ASX 200 set to rise – IAG, ALD & VRL shares on watch

The S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is expected to open higher on Tuesday according to the latest SPI futures. Here’s what’s making headlines.

ASX 200 hits nine-month high

The ASX 200 got off to a positive start to the week, adding 0.4% and hitting a nine-month high. The strength was broad-based but primarily coming from travel and energy-based sectors, with the latter adding 2.8% on the back of the first Melbourne to Sydney flight in months.

One key detractor was Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG), which fell over 6.0% after coming out of its post capital raising trading halt following last week’s court decision.

Integrated fuel processor and retailer Ampol Ltd (ASX: ALD) was a key contributor to the rally, adding 4.6% after offering markets a solid update and announcing a $300 million off-market buyback. The buyback comes following the sale of 49% of Ampol’s stake in the portfolio of Australian service station and convenience retail assets to Charter Hall Group (ASX: CHC) for $635 million.

Ampol management took the opportunity to highlight the continued resilience of the international fuel and convenience retail division, which have offset ~15% declines in aviation sales in 2020.

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BGH increases offer for Village, Mesoblast explodes

In a sign things are returning to normal, private equity player BGH Capital was forced to increase its offer for Movie World owner Village Roadshow Ltd (ASX: VRL) from $2.32 to $3.00 per share. This sent the Village Roadshow share price up 16.3% on the news.

The increased offer highlights the unique position Australia finds itself in compared to the rest of the world. Our success in combatting COVID-19, combined with world-leading levels of fiscal stimulus, bodes well for the economy as the US faces close to one million new cases each week.

Home Consortium Ltd (ASX: HMC) completed the demerger of the HomeCo Daily Needs REIT (ASX: HDN), with the $300 million listing well-received due to its high-quality tenants, including Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) and long-term leases.

Elsewhere, Mesoblast Limited (ASX: MSB) continued its strong recent run, bouncing 17.6% following its tie-up with Novartis last week and a general improvement in healthcare stocks.

Solid US session, still no stimulus in sight

US markets began the week on a positive note, with the rotation to companies benefiting from a reopening once again on show. The S&P 500 led the tech-driven Nasdaq, finishing 0.6% higher while the Nasdaq finished flat.

This time the key contributor was the latest vaccine news from the AstraZeneca (LON: AZN) trial, which despite exhibiting less efficacy, is likely an easier option to roll out around the world as it doesn’t require extremely low temperatures for storage.

Markets are still waiting on another round of stimulus in the US, with neither party willing to concede, a decision on its own that could have created a market correction as little as a few months ago.

Traders are now waiting with bated breath for what is expected to be one of the largest ‘rebalancing’ events on record as pension funds are required to adjust their bond and equity exposures towards the end of this month following a strong period for equity markets.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew does not have a financial or commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.