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Inflation returns, Coles (ASX:COL) sales boom

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Inflation returns, Coles (ASX:COL) sales boom, US staggers down 3%, ASX to open over 1% lower
 
The ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) staged a solid comeback after a weak opening, finishing 0.1% higher. 
 
The strength came from the consumer staples and IT sector, up 1.8% and 3.0%, with some new and old names contributing. 
 
On the newer side, was grocery retailer Coles Group (ASX:COL) which provided a trading update to investors. 
 
As anyone in Melbourne knows, the highlight of the lockdown has been the nearly daily visits to the supermarket. 
 
This was reflected in the trading update, with first quarter sales up 10.5% on 2019 to $9.6 billion and online sales growing 57%; excluding Victoria grocery sales were slower at 7.7%. 
 
Similarly, liquor was a highlight, up 17.8% benefitting from the mass closure of restaurants and bars. 
 
Shares finished 2.3% higher on the news, but I personally continue to prefer the dominant competitor, Woolworths (ASX:WOW) in the sector which also added 1.9%.
 
Afterpay (ASX:APT) shows no signs of slowing, Hub 24 (ASX:HUB) announces acquisitions
 
Wednesday saw the release of quarterly inflation data, which triggered the market rally. 
 
The result was a return to increasing pricing, up 1.6% on the previous quarter, when prices fell 1.9%. 
 
The increase was almost solely due to the normalisation of childcare costs following the removal of subsidies. 
 
Afterpay Ltd (ASX:APT) breached the $100 level and stayed there after announcing another 115% increase in sales in the first quarter of the financial year; they grew to $1.4 billion. 
 
These sales of course represent the trade using the platform, not their profit, nevertheless this was 9% higher than the previous quarter. 
 
The growth outlook is becoming clear, Australia a pedestrian 63% compared to the US, 229% and the UK, 346%. 
 
Active customers also doubled to 11.2 million, 45% of which are millennials; shares were 7.3% higher.  
 
Investment platform provider, HUB24 (ASX:HUB) announced three acquisitions today as they seek to gain further market share, buying competitor XPLOR Wealth and Easton Investments, which owns a series of accounting firms; shares remain in a trading halt pending a capital raising.
 
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) beats expectations, S&P 500 falls most in two months, first test for the ASX
 
US and European markets suffered their worst fall in two months, the S&P 500 down 3.5% and the Nasdaq 3.9%. 
 
The trigger was not necessarily spiking COVID-19 cases, but the reinstitution of lockdowns in Europe. 
 
With Australia close to controlling the virus this will be an interesting test of the resilience of our market and whether our reliance on China will once again be a positive. 
 
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) once again smashed expectations showing the digitisation of the global economy is unlikely to slowdown even as we move past the pandemic. 
 
The company delivered a US$13.9 billion quarterly profit on $37.2 billion in revenue, which was a 12% increase on 2019. 
 
The key drivers were the companies commercial cloud, or Sharepoint business that we utilise at Wattle Partners, growing 31%, whilst the XBOX platform unit also grew at 30% for the quarter with a new console set for delivery. 
 
Despite the result, shares fell 4.3% on a weaker outlook.




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