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Rio and BHP near all-time highs

Equities

ASX 200 starts the week higher, Metcash (ASX:MTS) smashes expectations, Rio, BHP near all-time highs, negative lead
 
The ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) weakened throughout the day but managed a fifth straight positive session closing 0.6% higher.

Once again, the majority of the buying pressure came from the commodities sector, specifically iron ore, after the price spiked another 5% over the weekend.

According to reports Chinese port stockpiles of ore are running low, suggesting Brazilian supply issues are having an impact, and ensuring strong demand as the year comes to a close.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and BHP Group (ASX:BHP) rallied 2.5% and 2.2% respectively sending them both close to all-time highs. For some context, the two companies alone represent 8.2% over the ASX 200 index. 

Link Administration Group (ASX:LNK) entered a trading halt after receiving a second, highly conditional bid from Nasdaq-listed SS&C Technologies.

It had been a quite few weeks for the company, so the offer came as a surprise and in an interesting move the buyers have made it ‘subject to obtaining finance’; given the nature of the assets I don’t expect a bidding war to play out.  
 
Metcash (ASX: MTS) back to heyday, China trade offers insights, credit rating downgrades
 
In the least surprising move of 2020, Standard and Poor’s have downgraded Victoria and New South Wales State Government debt by two notches from AAA to ‘just’ AA. Whilst quite the headline grabber, it means little for either economy.

As highlighted last week, the RBA has been actively encouraging the states to borrow to fund fiscal stimulus in the hope of a faster employment recovery.

The RBA has similarly included State Government bonds in its ‘quantitative easing’ and associated programs, ensuring borrowing rates will not be overly impacted.

Chinese economic strategic was on full display with a huge spike in its trade surplus in November, growing to $75 billion as exports increased by 21.1% and imports by just 4.1%.

The Government is focusing heavily on increasing self-sufficiency at the detriment of trade partners like Australia.

Back to home, Metcash Ltd (ASX:MTS) is moving back towards 2008 levels after an unexpected, COVID-19 driven rebound.

The company reported a 12.2% increase in group revenue and a 43% in profit to $129.6 million with hardware a key contributor, jumping 20.6% in the first half.

Whilst a solid result I struggle to see this continuing as Victorian restrictions are eased.
 
US markets stutter, COVID Christmas, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) sends Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC) lower
 
US markets finished weaker after a concerning surge in Coronavirus cases has states from California to New York reinstating stay at home orders.

Whilst the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both fell 0.4% and 0.5% respectively, the Nasdaq was able to deliver a small gain of 0.5% on the back of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) announcing the launch of its own processors for the Mac Book Pro sooner than expected in 2021; shares finished 1.3% higher on the news.

Incumbent chip supplier Intel Corp (NASDAQ) felt the brunt of the announcement falling 3.9% on a further hit to sales.

The US-China trade war has once again been replaced with Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK, which are expected to come to a head this week.

In the absence of any solid agreement, the UK economy would be expected to suffer in the short-term.

According to reports, the Japanese economy is set to receive a new US$706 billion stimulus with a significant portion attached to digitisation and the transition to a more sustainable economy.




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