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Afterpay surge helps ASX scale new heights

Daily Market Update

Afterpay powers ASX to record, Santos takes out Oil Search, iron ore tanks

The ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) powered to another record close on Monday, jumping 1.3% on what has been dubbed ‘the biggest day in Australian sharemarket history’; the IT sector added 6.5%.

Whilst every sector finished the day higher, it wasn’t smooth sailing for materials, which added just 0.1% after the iron ore price tumbled 7.4% overnight to US$181 per tonne, with Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) falling 2% on the news.

Before the market opened, Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) disclosed that it had entered into a scheme of arrangement to merge, or be taken over, by global payments giant Square Inc (NYSE: SQ).

This was massive news, with management agreeing to the deal that values Afterpay at $39 billion or $126.61 per share and will hand them 18% of the combined company.

The Afterpay share price finished 18.8% higher on the same day that management reported another year of stunning growth, as underlying sales doubled and revenue jumped 88% to $925 million.

Afterpay will go down as one of the biggest success stories in modern history and perhaps the greatest creator of shareholder value in history, after being founded just six years ago.

Naturally, shares in highly-shorted competitor Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) jumped 9.0% with the company clearly now in play to another global giant like Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL), Klarna, or another major bank.

Santos and Oil Search merger, Ramsay to see surgery recovery, property records, Queensland lockdown

It didn’t end at Afterpay, with oil junior Oil Search Ltd (ASX: OSH) announcing that management would recommend a revised merger deal with competitor Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) as both seek to maintain relevance in a renewable-focused economy.

Under the improved deal, Oil Search shareholders will take a 38.5% stake in the combined entity, up from 36.9%.

Both shares jumped on the news, with Oil Search up 4.7% and Santos 0.6%, albeit both well below the heady days of the mid-2010s.

Queensland’s extension of its lockdown did little to dent confidence, with Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) down just 0.7% as investors tire of the constant change in restrictions.

Australian property prices rose 1.6% in July, making the 12 months gain 16.1%, the strongest in over 17 years.

The banking sector was buoyed by the news, adding 1.9% behind a 2% jump in each of National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC).

Private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) added 1% after management was quoted in a recent interview suggesting that extended lockdowns in NSW, along with Victoria and Queensland for that matter, will likely see the government forced to subcontract work to the private sector to have any hope of shortening waiting lists.

US markets mixed, yields collapse, manufacturing slows

US markets were broadly mixed on Monday with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 down 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, despite a positive start to the day. The Nasdaq managed to finish 0.1% higher.

It is all about the Delta variant at the moment with more warnings from governments around the world and growing concerns that job gains will be slowed by the uncertainty as cases spike across the country.

The result has been the pushing back of an expected tapering announcement, particularly after US manufacturing growth continued to slow, the PMI down to 59.5. A key driver has been the lack of supply of inputs as bottlenecks remain around the world.

Oil prices continued to fall after a deadly attack on a tanker by Iran, which should send the energy sector lower today. Both the US, Israel, and the UK have vowed to respond to the attack.

The only report of note was Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) suitor Square Inc (NYSE: SQ), with shares jumping over 10% on news that profit was up tenfold to over US$200 million for the quarter.

Revenue doubled to US$4.68 billion, with the group confirming it had 40 million monthly active customers on its Cash App.

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