South Australia's tough Covid restrictions ease: ASX set to open higher


The Australian share market looks set to open higher this morning as South Australia’s harsh lockdown restrictions ease. The World Trade Organization reported on Friday that global trade in goods had rebounded in the third quarter from Covid-19 lockdowns, but predicted a slowdown at the end of 2020. Europe is set to lift its flight ban on the Boeing 737 MAX passenger jetliner after Christmas after US regulators last week ended a 20-month grounding triggered by two fatal crashes. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement if Iran abides by the deal.

Economic News

The week kicks off on Tuesday, the Commonwealth Bank weekly credit and debit card spending data is released alongside the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer sentiment gauge. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases the preliminary international merchandise trade data on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Guy Debelle speaks at the Australian Business Economists webinar at 1.30pm AEDT. On Wednesday, the ABS releases the data on construction work that has been done (or completed) over the September quarter. On Thursday, the ABS issues detailed labour force data for October. Also released on Thursday is the September quarter business investment figures.

Markets

Wall Street closed lower on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8 per cent to close at 29,263, the S&P 500 fell 0.7 per cent to close at 3558 and the NASDAQ closed 0.4 per cent lower at 11,855.

European markets closed higher on Friday: London’s FTSE added 0.3 per cent, Paris gained 0.4 per cent and Frankfurt closed 0.4 per cent higher.

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday: Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite closed 0.4 per cent higher.

Back home, the SPI futures are pointing to 0.5 per cent gain. On Friday, the Australian share market closed 0.1 per cent lower at 6539.

Company news

The Board of Smartpay (ASX:SMP) has appointed Mark Fortugno to the position of Chief Financial Officer from today. Mark is a Chartered Accountant in Australia, in addition to being a Certified Public Accountant in the USA. Mark will be based in Smartpay’s Sydney office -Australia is now the largest contributor to group revenue. Current CFO Aidan Murphy has been appointed to the position of Chief Business Officer, a newly created commercial role to support Smartpay’s key commercial initiatives. Shares in Smartpay Holdings (ASX:SMP) closed 2.4 per cent higher at $0.64 on Friday.

Ex-Dividends

Amcor PLC (ASX:AMC) is paying 16.55 cents unfranked
Elders Limited (ASX:ELD) is paying 13 cents fully franked

Currencies

One Australian Dollar at 7:40 AM was buying 73.03 US cents, 54.92 Pence Sterling, 75.87 Yen and 61.64 Euro cents.

Commodities

Iron Ore has gained 0.7 per cent to US$128.83.
Iron Ore futures suggest a 1.5 per cent gain.
Gold was up $11.30 to US$1878 an ounce.
Silver has added $0.33 to US$24.49 an ounce.
Oil was up $0.52 to US$42.42 a barrel.