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Firmer finish for ASX, Afterpay on fire


Firmer finish for ASX, Afterpay (ASX:APT) on fire, China exports surprise

The ASX200 (ASX:XJO) finished another 0.4% higher on Thursday with Afterpay (ASX:APT) a key contributor, jumping 9.7% and sending the entire tech sector up 4.7% for the session.

The trigger appeared to be the listing of US competitor Affirm (NASDAQ:AFRM), which jumped 98% upon listing and seems to be bringing the Buy Now Pay Later to the mainstream for US investors.

  • Selling pressure continues to come from the materials sector, which fell 0.7% as the recent momentum in iron ore prices slows sending Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) down 1.6%.

    Staying with tech, homegrown healthcare specialist Pro Medicus (ASX:PME) founded by current CEO Sam Hupert continued its strong recent run adding 15.0% after signing another major contract in the US.

    PME provides image and data sharing solutions for radiologists and similar specialists, with the seven-year $40 million deal with Intermountain Healthcare allowing the company to enter an important region in the US.

    The deal markets the fifth such win in just six months as the company moves from growth to scale and profitability.

    Australian Ethical (ASX:AEF) assets hit $5 billion, Centuria devalues offices, Tyro (ASX:TYR) feeling the heat

    The Centuria Office REIT (ASX:COF) held steady after devaluing their $2.3 billion portfolios of offices by just 0.8% or $17 million.

    According to management, external valuations were completed on 13 of the funds 23 properties, which are spread across the country, but valuations barely changed.

    This seems a little hopeful with offices around the country still deserted, employees preferring to work from home, and now bond rates heading higher in recent weeks.

    On a more positive side, Australian Ethical Investments (ASX:AEF) which I must disclose I am an investor in, reported that they had finally reached $5 billion in assets under management, a target set in 2015 when they managed just $1.5 billion.

    The group which offers ethically focused superannuation, Australian and global equity products saw record inflows of $420 million in the first half of the financial year; shares were 1.5% higher.

    The Chinese continue to buck the global trend, reporting an 18.1% increase in exports on 2020 levels, well above estimates of 15%, with the global restocking of inventory clearly benefitting the economy.

    US falls ahead of Biden speech, Trump impeached, record profits for TSMC 

    US markets have fallen ahead of an impending ‘stimulus’ speech by President-Elect Biden, which the potential for another US$2 trillion in stimulus flagged.

    The S&P500 fell 0.4% and the Nasdaq 0.1%, with value sectors including airlines and energy the key outperformers.

    Donald Trump was impeached for the second time after Republicans voted against the President in the House, with a Senate hearing to be held in the coming weeks.

    On a positive side, the US Treasury Department has blocked an attempt to ban US investors from holding the major Chinese tech names including Alibaba (HKG:9988), Tencent (HKG:0700), and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) all of which rallied by over 5.0%.

    Sticking with the technology theme, the global leader in semiconductor manufacturing TSMC (2330:TPE) reported record quarterly revenue and profit on the back of huge demand for their fast chips from new 5G handsets, profit hitting US$5.1 billion, a 23% increase; shares finished 2.2% lower.

    Investment manager Blackrock (NYSE:BLK) reported US$185 billion of inflows into their iShares ETF products in the December quarter taking total assets under management to US$8.68 trillion, with every style region and product type gaining funds; shares fell 5.0% on concern that margins were shrinking.

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