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ASX news today: WOW share price in focus as ASX 200 set to open higher

The ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) capped off another positive day on Thursday despite a fall in the oil price sending the entire sector down 1.1%. On Friday, the ASX 200 is tipped to open modestly higher at the open, with Woolworths Ltd (ASX: WOW) in focus.

The end of Melbourne’s lockdown has clearly seen improved sentiment towards retail assets, with Vicinity (ASX: VCX) up another 1.5% on Thursday.

Woolworths received positive news on its proposed purchase of wholesale food distributor PFD Food Services, with ASIC approving the purchase. PFD purchases and distributes foods for around 15% of the market with Woolies taking a 65% share of the company. This looks akin to an Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) for the grocery behemoth — a clear positive yet shares increased just 0.8%.

If you follow Woolworths, be sure to read Lachlan’s research: “My deep-dive into the Woolworths demerger of Endeavour Group

Topping the market on Thursday was CRM provider Iress (ASX: IRE), which owns the XPLAN platform used by financial advisers. IRE shares finished 16.8% higher despite the company confirming they had not received any direct approach regarding a takeover.

Boral says no

The board of Boral Ltd (ASX: BLD) continues to fight off one of the more intriguing takeover deals in recent memory. Seven Group Holdings (ASX: SVW) had previously acquired as many shares as was legally allowed, around 19.9%, before lobbing a $6.50 bid for any remaining shares in BLD. This is below the current BLD share price, yet some shareholders have accepted, whilst Boral’s on market share buyback is reducing the shares on issue and therefore SVW’s share of the company. Watch this space.

According to an independent expert, Boral’s true value is around $8.25 per share.

Popular defence and shipbuilding company Austal (ASX: ASB) fell 3.5% after ASIC lodged civil proceedings against the group. The proceedings focus on historical matters concerning the companies market disclosures relating to the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Elsewhere, travel companies were hit after news that a Melburnian had fled and potentially exposed both NSW and Queensland. Flight Centre Travel Ltd (ASX: FLT) fell 2.6%

US markets move to record despite inflation data

All three US stock market indices moved higher on Thursday despite experts worse fears of a spike in inflation coming true. The Nasdaq led the way, adding 0.8%, as big technology names continue to regain momentum. The S&P 500 finished 0.5% higher ad the Dow Jones just 0.1%.

All eyes were on this year’s inflation data which the Federal Reserve had consistently predicted will be short-lived and due to base effects compared to the beginning of the pandemic when demand for everything went to zero. Inflation hit 5% in March from 4.2% in April, with the core measure that excludes more volatile food and fuel prices growing 3.8%. Both were records, the first the highest for 13 years and the second for 29 years.

A closer look confirmed that as much of a third of the increase was due to a 7% rise in used car prices. Seven of the S&P500’s 11 sectors finished higher with predicted beneficiaries of higher inflation, being banks like JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) actually the biggest detractors. Overnight, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) continued its expansion announcing the launch of Netflix.shop where users can buy branded goods associated with their favourite TV shows.

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At the time of publishing, the author of this article does not have a financial or commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned

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