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ASX 200 Weekly Wrap: ASX has best week since GFC

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What another remarkable week we’ve just had on the ASX boards, and an early Easter present at that! At the beginning of last week, we reported that the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) had just had its best week since 2011. Despite the shortened length of the trading week last week, the ASX 200 did one better and ended up giving investors the best week of gains in over a decade – since the GFC, to be exact.

This was despite perhaps the gloomiest Easter in living memory being imposed upon Australians, with country-wide restrictions on travel, gatherings, outings and festivities in full force over the long weekend.

Perhaps more remarkable was that these gains also happened despite a slew of bad news during last week.

The United States is in the midst of a terrible situation with the coronavirus and officially overtook Italy last week to become the global epicentre of the virus pandemic. Tragically, more than 22,000 Americans have now succumbed to the disease.

Somewhat perplexingly, however, the US markets also had a stunning week of gains in stock prices.

Closer to home, further evidence emerged that Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and the other big ASX banks are going to struggle to pay dividends in 2020. Even if dividend cheques do end up in banking investors’ hands this year, the chances of the payments being even remotely close to what we have seen in the past now appears to be extremely low.

Furthermore, a number of ASX companies announced capital raisings in order to raise cash for their starving balance sheets. These included Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT), Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) and G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM).

How did the markets end the week?

Very well, to put it bluntly. The ASX 200 began last week on 5,067.5 points. On Thursday afternoon it was sitting at 5,387.3 points – an extraordinary 4-day gain of 6.31% for the week. Monday was the strongest day, with a 4.3% jump alone. Tuesday and Wednesday saw mild losses under 1%, whilst Thursday saw a healthy 3.5% jolt that saw investors having a very nice Good Friday indeed after the week closed.

Since the markets last bottomed on 23 March, we have now seen an incredible surge of 18.5% for the ASX 200. Another 1.5% and the ASX will officially be back in bull market territory.

Meanwhile, the ALL ORDINARIES (ASX: XAO) also had a strong week, recording a 4-day gain of 6.51%.

Also coming out strong last week was the Aussie dollar, which is now trading at a 1-month high of 64 US cents, after dipping as low as 55 US cents last month.

Which ASX 200 shares were the biggest winners and losers?

Thursday saw some monumental moves, but for the first time in a while, these seemed to be confined to the winner’s column rather than the losers.

But let’s get the bad news out of the way first with the losers:

Worst ASX losers

 % loss on Thursday

United Malt Group Ltd (ASX: UMG)

4.31%

Reliance Worldwide Corporation Ltd (ASX: RWC)

3.5%

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd (ASX: FPH)

3.25%

Chorus Limited (ASX: CNU)

3.19%

Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE)

3.13%

As you can see, new ASXer United Malt Group topped the losers list, with healthcare share Fisher & Paykel and building materials manufacturer Reliance also making significant moves. With the exception of United Malt, these are companies that have been sold off heavily in recent weeks, so I put Thursday’s moves down to some rational rebalancing by investors last week, with no other major news out concerning these companies.

So let’s now take a look at Thursday’s winners:

Best ASX gains

 % gain on Thursday

Perenti Global Ltd (ASX: PRN)

27.64%

oOh!Media Ltd (ASX: OML)

19.69%

Southern Cross Media Group Ltd (ASX: SXL)

18.18%

Boral Limited (ASX: BLD)

12.66%

Credit Corp Group Limited (ASX: CCP)

11.74%

As is evident, Perenti was last Thursday’s massive winner with a 27.64% gain for the day. No major news was out regarding this mining services provider, so the conclusion we can only reach is that investors saw an Easter bargain and went for the golden egg.

Advertising-reliant companies oOh!Media and Southern Cross Media also saw heavy gains, as did Credit Corp and Boral. These have been some of the hardest-hit companies in this ASX bear market, so clearly investors were on the hunt for some deep-value plays as the trading week ended.

I’ll also throw in a mention to the ASX’s biggest company CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), which had an incredible week with a 7.16% rise. This puts CSL on a share price of $329 as we start the new week – just 4% away from the pre-crash all-time high of $342.75.

What is this week looking like for the ASX?

There will be plenty of investors looking forward to a sequel of healthy gains after last week’s gangbuster performance, to be sure. But with so much uncertainty still swirling around the economy in the wake of the coronavirus, I still think investors should hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

Oil stocks will be an interesting area to keep an eye on this week after it was announced that the Saudi–Russian oil war has now been wrapped up with a deal involving heavy cuts to crude output. ASX oil shares have been slashed over the past 2 months as raw crude prices dropped to decade-lows, so these shares will be on watch tomorrow.

Other than that, all eyes are on the coronavirus case count here in Australia (as well as globally). It’s possible that further drops in reported cases might boost investor sentiment even further, but we shall have to wait and see.

So as we start another week, here is the lay of the land for the major ASX blue-chips:

ASX company

P/E ratio

Last share price

52-week high

52-week low

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

46.32

$329.00

$342.75

$189.14

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA)

11.2

$61.76

$91.05

$53.44

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC)

8.42

$15.96

$30.05

$13.47

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB)

9.25

$16.08

$30.00

$13.20

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ)

7.77

$16.54

$29.30

$14.10

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW)

17.47

$35.10

$43.96

$30.09

Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES)

19.45

$37.50

$47.42

$29.75

BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP)

10.46

$31.50

$42.33

$24.05

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

11.41

$89.39

$107.79

$72.77

Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL)

17.94

$15.95

$18.09

$11.76

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS)

18.11

$3.14

$3.95

$2.87

Transurban Group (ASX: TLC)

145.24

$12.28

$16.44

$9.10

Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd (ASX: SYD)

31.97

$5.72

$9.30

$4.37

Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM)

21.79

$25.64

$38.87

$20.70

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL)

36.74

$21.84

$37.55

$14.93

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG)

10.47

$99.50

$152.35

$70.45

And finally, here is a look at some leading economic indicators:

  •     S&P/ASX 200 (XJO) at 5,387.3 points
  •     ALL ORDINARIES (XAO) at 5,439.4 points
  •     Dow Jones Industrial Average at 23,327.28 points
  •     Gold (Spot) is swapping hands for US$1,685.56 per troy ounce
  •     Iron ore is asking US$83.62 a tonne
  •     Crude oil (Brent) is trading at US$31.48 a barrel
  •     Australian dollar buying 63.64 US cents

Foolish takeaway

After a housebound Easter weekend, it promises to be yet another interesting (and short) week on the ASX this week. Dividend investors will no doubt be keeping their ears pricked for any further news from the big banks and other blue-chips regarding dividend payments. But otherwise, good luck on the markets this week Fools. Stay rational and stay safe!

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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. and Reliance Worldwide Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Flight Centre Travel Group Limited, Macquarie Group Limited, Sydney Airport Holdings Limited, Telstra Limited, and Transurban Group. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited and Wesfarmers Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended oOh!Media Ltd and Reliance Worldwide Limited. 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.

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