The Motley Fool

ASX 200 Weekly Wrap: ASX records best week since 2011

Last week, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) managed its first week of overall gains since the start of this ASX stock market crash and indeed since 2011. It’s a striking statistic and one that might give battered Aussie investors out there some much-needed optimism after 7 weeks of brutal falls. However, it wasn’t enough to stop markets recording the worst quarter since the 1987 stock market crash.

The ASX 200 started the week at 4,842.4 points. On Friday, we finished the week at 5,067.5 points – marking last week’s total gain at a healthy 4.6%. It could have been a lot better too. Monday and Tuesday were both days where some heavy buying pressure lifted the ASX 200 considerably – topping out at 5,365 points around lunchtime on Tuesday.

This was led by the big ASX banks like Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC), which saw considerable gains on Tuesday before reports over their dividend safety surfaced to ruin the party. Europe has ordered banking companies to suspend their dividend payments in light of the ongoing economic uncertainty, a call that was echoed by the New Zealand government as well.

With both of these stories coming to light, there are now fresh doubts over the ability of CBA, Westpac and the other major banks to pay the substantial dividends in 2020 that investors are accustomed to from the big four.

How did the markets end the week?

Combining the unappealing concept of bank dividend cuts with continuing uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak and spread, ongoing economic shutdowns and social unrest, the optimism investors were feeling on Tuesday ended up somewhat dampened by Friday.

In the end, the still-respectable 4.6% gain for the ASX 200 for the week was where the consensus ended up. Friday saw the worst day of the week, with a 1.7% loss, while Monday was the best day with a 4.31% gain.

While the ASX 200 recorded a 4.6% gain for the week, the ALL ORDINARIES (ASX: XAO) also had a strong 5 days, rising from 4,874 points to 5,106 to bank a 4.76% gain.

Which ASX shares were the biggest winners and losers?

We had a mixed bag of winners and losers on the markets last week. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first and examine the top 5 losers on Friday:

Worst ASX losers

 % loss on Friday

AP Eagers Ltd (ASX: APE)

12.47%

SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited (ASX: SKC)

11.75%

Downer EDI Limited (ASX: DOW)

10.26%

Bapcor Ltd (ASX: BAP)

9.72%

AMP Limited (ASX: AMP)

9.02%

Leading Friday’s losers was AP Eagers – a car dealership operator with a share price that has been hit especially hard in this market crash. AP Eagers shares are currently trading at levels not seen since 2012 after falling more than 60% since January. Last week, investors were actually bidding up AP Eagers shares on speculation that the company could be a takeover target for conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES). Friday’s moves can probably be put down to this speculation cooling off somewhat.

Also noteworthy in this list is AMP. AMP shares remain at all-time lows with last week’s 9.02% slump, which occurred despite no major news from the financial giant. Even though the AMP share price isn’t yet back to its record low of $1.08 that was seen on 24 March, it’s been a brutal slump for the once-proud Australian company during this market crash.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the bad, lets examine the stocks that were the best performers last Friday:

Best ASX gains

 % gain on Friday

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG)

5.71%

NRW Holdings Ltd (ASX: NWH)

4.73%

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX: TWE)

4.71%

Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH)

4.6%

Growthpoint Properties Australia Ltd (ASX: GOZ)

3.89%

The biggest winner last week was iron mining giant Fortescue Metals with a near 6% rise. Fortescue has been a veritable island of safety for ASX investors during this market crash. Fortescue shares have only fallen 6.9% since mid-February based on Friday’s closing price. That compares quite favourably to the ASX 200’s 29% drop during the same period. The iron ore price has held up remarkably well during this bear market whilst the Australian dollar has dropped significantly, which explains why investors remain bullish on Fortescue.

It also might provide an explanation as to why mining services provider NRW Holdings was also a winner on the ASX last week.

Meanwhile, Treasury Wines was also a late beneficiary on Friday, after investors forgave the company somewhat after a class-action lawsuit against the company was announced the previous day.

What is this week looking like for the ASX?

As has become common during this crazy time, it’s very hard to predict what the coming week will look like, apart from declaring the obvious: anything can happen in this current climate.

As with last week, a noteworthy item of interest will be government responses to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Previously announced stimulus packages have gone a long way in easing market pessimism, and so this continues to be an important space to watch. This also extends to the US, where pressures from the virus remain at a far more critical juncture than here in Australia.

Another event to keep a close eye on this week will be the meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on Tuesday. The RBA has already cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25% in an emergency meeting last month, but this month’s scheduled gathering might well result in Australia having an official interest rate of zero for the first time in our history.

Before we go, here is how the major ASX blue-chips are looking as we start a new week afresh:

ASX company

P/E ratio

Last share price

52-week high

52-week low

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

42.19

$304.11

$342.75

$189.14

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA)

10.91

$60.11

$91.05

$53.44

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC)

8.18

$15.51

$30.05

$13.47

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB)

8.98

$15.62

$30.00

$13.20

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ)

7.41

$15.79

$29.30

$14.10

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW)

17.67

$35.50

$43.96

$30.09

Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES)

17.98

$34.67

$47.42

$29.75

BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP)

10.02

$30.33

$42.33

$24.05

Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO)

11.18

$88.93

$107.79

$72.77

Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL)

17.86

$15.88

$18.09

$11.76

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS)

17.94

$3.11

$3.95

$2.87

Transurban Group (ASX: TLC)

131.28

$11.10

$16.44

$9.10

Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd (ASX: SYD)

28.84

$5.16

$9.30

$4.37

Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX: NCM)

20.74

$24.53

$38.87

$20.70

Woodside Petroleum Ltd (ASX: WPL)

32.98

$19.70

$37.55

$14.93

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG)

8.87

$84.30

$152.35

$70.45

And finally, here is the lay of the land for some leading economic and market indicators:

  • S&P/ASX 200 (XJO) at 5,067.5 points
  • ALL ORDINARIES (XAO) at 5,106.9 points
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average at 21,052.53 points
  • Gold (Spot) is swapping hands for US$1,616.40 per troy ounce
  • Iron ore is asking US$82.2 a tonne
  • Brent crude oil is trading at US$34.11 a barrel
  • Australian dollar buying 60 US cents

Foolish takeaway

It remains a scary, unpredictable and unprecedented time to be an investor in Australian shares. I firmly think that sticking to the fundamentals that form the Foolish way of thinking and investing are a great light to guide us through this crisis and towards the other side – which we draw closer to with every day that goes past.

From all of us here at the Motley Fool – stay safe, stay rational and stay Foolish!

For some shares to watch out for on your way out, don’t miss the free report below!

NEW. The Motley Fool AU Releases Five Cheap and Good Stocks to Buy for 2020 and beyond!….

Our experts here at The Motley Fool Australia have just released a fantastic report, detailing 5 dirt cheap shares that you can buy in 2020.

One stock is an Australian internet darling with a rock solid reputation and an exciting new business line that promises years (or even decades) of growth… while trading at an ultra-low price…

Another is a diversified conglomerate trading more than 30% off it’s high, all while offering a fully franked dividend yield over 3%…

Plus 3 more cheap bets that could position you to profit over the next 12 months!

See for yourself now. Simply click the link below to scoop up your FREE copy and discover all 5 shares. But you will want to hurry – this free report is available for a brief time only.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE REPORT!

As of 17/3/2020

Sebastian Bowen owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited, Newcrest Mining Limited, and Telstra Limited. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of CSL Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Bapcor, Macquarie Group Limited, Sydney Airport Holdings Limited, Telstra Limited, Transurban Group, and Treasury Wine Estates Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited and Wesfarmers Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Sky City Entertainment Group Ltd. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

NEW. The Motley Fool AU Releases Five Cheap and Good Stocks to Buy for 2020 and beyond!….

Our experts here at The Motley Fool Australia have just released a fantastic report, detailing 5 dirt cheap shares that you can buy in 2020.

One stock is an Australian internet darling with a rock solid reputation and an exciting new business line that promises years (or even decades) of growth… while trading at an ultra-low price…

Another is a diversified conglomerate trading over 40% off its high, all while offering a fully franked dividend yield over 3%...

Plus 3 more cheap bets that could position you to profit over the next 12 months!

See for yourself now. Simply click here or the link below to scoop up your FREE copy and discover all 5 shares. But you will want to hurry – this free report is available for a brief time only.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE REPORT!