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ASX gains 0.4% as inflation data undershoots

Daily Market Update

Markets rally on weak inflation data, Link deal pulled, JB Hi-Fi CEO stepping down 

The ASX200 (ASX:XJO) managed to deliver another 0.4% gain with the materials sector the only detractor falling 1.0%.

The fall came despite the iron ore price hitting a record of US$193, marking a long recovery from the US$50 lows of 2015.

JB HiFi (ASX:JBH) was among the largest detractors, falling 4.0% after its long-standing CEO, Richard Murray, announced he would be stepping down to join Solomon Lew-backed Premier Investments (ASX:PMV) which added 2.2%.

The departure comes after 18 years in the business, with Murray set to be replaced with his predecessor Terry Smart who ran the business last decade.

Administration services provider Link Administration (ASX:LNK) fell 6.3% after the private equity consortium led by Pacific Equity Partners scrapped their bid for the company.

The board remains hopeful of the successful sale of their PEXA property settlement platforms, with initial indications suggesting it is more valuable than the private equity group estimated.

Inflation remains muted, Kogan rallies, Coles sales down 6.1%

Muted inflation figures were the key drivers behind the market’s afternoon recovery, with the headline rate printing at just 0.6%.

This was well below the 0.9% expected by economists, with the primary contributor being an 8% increase in fuel prices.

Whilst a positive for those worried about the impact of inflation and higher interest rates, this is also backward-looking data covering the March quarter alone.

The cycling of strong 2020 figures saw Coles Group (ASX:COL) report a 6.1% fall in quarterly sales to $7.7 billion as shopping conditions returned to normal.

That said, liquor and express sales, being smaller stores in larger cities, both grew sales at 2.6% and 7.4% respectively.

Ansell (ASX:ANN) has avoided the ‘cycling’ issue with management flagging today that second-half growth will exceed the 24.5% delivered in the first half.

The sale of PPE and surgical equipment remains strong as the pandemic continues, however, they have flagged rising raw material costs as a potential risk.

Markets weaken, big tech reports, more tax reform from Biden

US sharemarkets weakened as earnings season gathered steam, with inflation, higher input, and raw materials costs beginning to worry investors.

The Dow Jones was weakest, down 0.5%, and the Nasdaq 0.3% despite big tech reporting healthy profits.

President Biden continued his sweeping tax reform agenda, highlighting an increased top marginal tax rate for the rich as he seeks to fund tax cuts and free child care for the low and middle income earners.

Shares in Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) fell despite beating expectations for a ninth straight quarter and reporting a 19% increase in sales.

Microsoft’s Azure platform, used by businesses large and small saw sales increase 50% as the digitalisation trend continues, whilst cloud computing sales continued at an incredible 33% as they continue to gain market share. This led to a doubling of profit to US$15.5 billion.

Xbox and personal computing sales remain capped by the global chip shortage, yet the former jumped 232% following the latest platform release in late 2020.

Alphabet (NYSE:GOOGL) is looking to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic reopening after the company reported a 35% increase in quarterly revenue to US$45.6 billion as advertising sales boom in a post-COVID, consumer-led economy; shares finished 3.0% higher on the news.

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