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ASX update; Westpac (ASX:WBC) whacked

Defensive assets

Volatility settles in, ASX falls, Westpac (ASX:WBC) whacked, positive start ahead

The market looks to be ending the week on a negative note, the ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) falling 0.8% on Thursday, following a weak global lead. This was well above the lows of the session, at one point hitting -1.7%, with no sector spared.

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) headlined the bad news, announcing it had agreed to the single largest fine penalty in Australian corporate history, a $1.3 billion hit.

The fine related to the banks 23 million breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and associated financial crimes court case.

  • Interestingly, shares finished just 0.2% lower with the fine equivalent to one quarter of profit. Shareholders are the ones paying the price after the banks decision to cut their dividends earlier this year.

    Brickworks Ltd (ASX:BKW) delivered more positive news, a 93% increase in profit to $298 million, on the back of its investment in TPG Telecom following the merger with Vodafone.

    Excluding the one off profit, the company remains in reasonable shape, increasing revenue 4% and slightly increasing the dividend as its US brick investments begin making a real contribution to the business.

    A-REITs offer shelter, Home Co. (ASX:HMC) spin off, budget deficits ahead

    The A-REIT sector, down 0.2%, offered shelter from the broader market sell off, with investors once again turning to the perceive security.

    Home Consortium (ASX:HMC) which owns a series of healthcare, big box and other retail assets announced progress on the demerger of its $800 million Daily Needs REIT.

    Shareholders will receive units in the separate trust allowing management to continue their investments in the burgeoning health and aged care portfolio; some experienced dealmakers are behind this one.

    As the impasse continues in the US, Treasurer Frydenberg reiterated that a budget surplus has been de-prioritised at least until unemployment is back below 6%, which may take several years to achieve.

    Today’s speech comes just two weeks out from the most anticipated budget in decades, with tax cuts, incentives and infrastructure spending high on the agenda.

    Despite the Victorian breakout, Australia is well positioned for recovery as the rest of the world deals with their own second waves.

    S&P 500 pares gains, $2.4 trillion stimulus package, unemployment steady

    US markets finished positive Thursday, but well of their highs, the S&P 500 up 0.3% and the Nasdaq 0.4%.

    It was reported that the Democrats have crafted another much needed $2.4 trillion stimulus bill in the hopes they can speed up the U-shaped recovery.

    The follows strong words from the Federal Reserve on the growing need for Government intervention.

    Financials lead the market higher, Goldman Sachs Inc. (NYSE:GS) adding 4.8% suggesting Australian banks should be supported.

    The Eurostoxx also finished lower after the French Government became the latest to impose restrictions, falling 0.7%, Airbus SE (EPA:AIR) among the worst, down 3.5% as it appears travel will be pushed back even further.

    It seems going green isn’t a good move for one of the worlds’ largest fossil fuel companies, BP Plc (LON:BP) hitting a 25 year low after announcing it would be net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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