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ASX 200 Weekly Wrap: Surging commodity prices snap ASX 200’s losing streak

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has snapped its 2-week losing streak and recorded a solid 1.3% rise last week, once again pushing back over the 6,000-point threshold. Whilst ASX investors would have been cheering at the 1.3% gain, the ASX 200 is still very much stuck in the rut it has been trading in for the past 2 months. Although it has seen its fair share of ups and downs, the ASX 200 has actually been essentially flat since early June. That was when the index touched the 6,000 point level for the first time since the coronavirus-induced market crash struck back in March. But with the ASX 200 closing at 6,004.8 points on Friday afternoon, it’s obvious we haven’t really seen any sustained, breakout moves since. In other words, the ASX 200 is stuck in the mud, it seems.

But getting back to last week’s market moves, it was once again commodities that were the major forces behind the week’s gains. Both iron and gold were on fire last week, both pushing ever higher.

Gold and iron miners lead gains

Iron ore is still commanding over US$117 per tonne, albeit after a late-week fall on Friday. This saw iron miners like BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) surge in value over the week as investors fought to get their hands on mining shares. BHP was up nearly 7% to $39.30, while Rio was up 0.44% to $102.45, despite going ex-dividend on Thursday. Fortescue was also up more than 4% for the week after hitting a new all-time high of $18.64 on Tuesday.

Gold, however, continued to surge last week and printed several new all-time highs after first breaking its 2011 record of US$1,921 per ounce in the prior week. Last Friday, we saw a new high watermark of US$2,075.47 per ounce, meaning gold is up an incredible 36.6% for the year so far. As you would expect, gold ETFs and miners alike saw substantial gains during the week, although far more muted than the big iron miners. The ASX’s largest gold miner, Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM), was up 2.56% for the week, but smaller miners like Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX: EVN) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) saw slightly larger jumps.

In other news, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left interest rates on hold (at the record low of 0.25%) in their monthly meeting on Tuesday. That was what most investors were expecting, judging by the lack of any significant ASX or Aussie dollar market moves following the decision.

How did the markets end the week?

The ASX 200 banked a 1.3% gain for the week after starting out at 5,927.8 points and finishing up at 6,004.8 points on Friday. Monday saw a relatively flat start to the week, but investors stepped on the gas on Tuesday with a 1.9% gain. Wednesday saw a muted 0.6% sell off, while Thursday saw this more-or-less reversed with a 0.7% gain. Friday saw another soft 0.6% loss, but it wasn’t enough to erase the gains achieved earlier in the week and the ASX 200 still finished well in the green.

Meanwhile, the All Ordinaries (INDEXASX: XAO) also had a strong week, starting at 6,058.3 points on Monday and finishing up at 6,114.9 points on Friday for a 1.4% gain for the week overall.

Which ASX 200 shares were the biggest winners and losers?

It’s time to take a look at our Foolish version of the gossip pages and investigate last week’s winners and losers. So while we put the kettle on, let’s start with the losers:

Worst ASX 200 losers

 % loss for the week

ResMed Inc (ASX: RMD)

(11.39%)

Southern Cross Media Group Ltd (ASX: SXL)

(8.82%)

NRW Holdings Limited (ASX: NWH)

(8.15%)

Credit Corp Group Limited (ASX: CCP)

(6.11%)

Taking out last week’s wooden spoon was sleeping aid company ResMed with a steep 11.4% decline. Investors evidently weren’t too impressed with the company’s quarterly and full-year update, which also came with a less-than-optimistic outlook for FY21, despite a 32% lift in net income for the year.

Contractor company NRW Holdings was also in the firing line last week after significant gains in the previous week. Investors were probably just taking some profits off the table with this one.

It’s a similar story with Credit Corp after the debt collector released a positive set of full-year results on 28 July.

Meanwhile, advertising-based Southern Cross Media shares continue to be unloved. The company’s shares are down more than 73% year to date after last week’s sell off.

With the bad news out of the way, let’s now check out last week’s winners:

Best ASX 200 gainers

 % gain for the week

Mesoblast Limited (ASX: MSB)

16.4%

Incitec Pivot Ltd (ASX: IPL)

15.14%

Lynas Corporation Ltd (ASX: LYC)

12.11%

News Corporation (ASX: NWS)

11.78%

Medical company Mesoblast came out on top last week, despite no major news from the company. Perhaps investors are still just trying to jump on this bandwagon, given that Mesoblast shares have more than doubled in value over the year so far.

Chemicals manufacturer, Incitec Pivot, was also in demand last week. It seems investors are seeing this company as undervalued, given the shares are still down more than 33% in 2020.

Wesfarmers Ltd‘s (ASX: WES) old flame Lynas was also a hot stock last week. This lithium producer told the markets that one of its Malaysian deposit facilities has received government approval for construction.

Finally, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was also bid higher last week after the company released its full-year results. Despite the company reporting a net loss of $1.55 billion, investors were clearly expecting a lot worse.

What is this week looking like for the ASX 200?

As per usual these days, all eyes will be on the coronavirus cases in Australia (as well as globally) as we start the new week. Victoria is tragically still struggling immensely with its outbreak, with continuing lockdowns a certainty for at least the next several weeks. New South Wales is also on high alert. If this situation deteriorates, we can at least expect to see some market volatility in my view. Our fingers are crossed this doesn’t eventuate.

In other news, we will finally get a look at Commonwealth Bank of Australia‘s (ASX: CBA) books on Wednesday when it releases its full-year results. The one metric that investors will be looking for is, of course, CommBank’s final dividend for 2020. Predictions are ranging from $1 per share to zero. CommBank is the last of the big four banks to report since the coronavirus crisis began, so it ill be interesting (and popcorn-worthy) viewing, to say the least.

Dividend investors will also be watching Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) this week, as it is also due to give its results and dividend announcement. Unlike with Commonwealth Bank, investors are hopeful Telstra will be able to keep its annual dividends at 16 cents per share. We’ll have to wait until Thursday to see if this hope translates into reality.

Before we go, here is a look at how the major ASX 200 blue chip shares are looking as we prepare to enter the breach once more:

ASX 200 company

Trailing P/E ratio

Last share price

52-week high

52-week low

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

44.4

$274.19

$342.75

$216.02

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA)

12.97

$71.52

$91.05

$53.44

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC)

12.58

$16.76

$30.05

$13.47

National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB)

15.22

$16.96

$30.00

$13.20

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ASX: ANZ)

12.04

$17.68

$28.79

$14.10

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW)

19.38

$38.94

$43.96

$32.12

Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES)

23.88

$46.04

$47.42

$29.75

BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) 15.16

$39.30

$41.47

$24.05

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

16.65

$102.45

$107.79

$72.77

Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL)

20.67

$18.37

$18.99

$13.10

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS)

19.44

$3.37

$4.01

$2.87

Transurban Group (ASX: TCL)

161.8

$13.68

$16.44

$9.10

Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd (ASX: SYD)

29.85

$5.34

$9.30

$4.37

Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM)

35.6

$36.08

$38.87

$20.70

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL)

39.75

$20.35

$36.28

$14.93

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG)

14.67

$124.68

$152.35

$70.45

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

  •     S&P/ASX 200 (XJO) at 6,004.8 points
  •     All Ordinaries (XAO) at 6,144.9 points
  •     Dow Jones Industrial Average at 27,433.48 points after rising 0.17% on Friday night (our time)
  •     Gold (Spot) swapping hands for US$2,035.99 per troy ounce
  •     Iron ore asking US$117.85 per tonne
  •     Crude oil (Brent) trading at US$44.69 per barrel
  •     Crude oil (WTI) going for US$41.60 per barrel
  •     Australian dollar buying 71.57 US cents
  •    10-year Australian Government bonds yielding 0.82% per annum

Foolish takeaway

It remains an interesting time to be alive on the ASX, that’s for sure. Investors are clearly hedging their bets both ways by sending both the US share markets (risk-on assets) and the gold price (a risk-off asset) to all-time highs. If anyone else has a sense of sailing in uncharted waters, you’re not alone! So invest cautiously Fools, have some cash ready and be prepared for anything is my advice for this week. As always, stay safe out there, stay rational and stay Foolish!

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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. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Macquarie Group Limited and Telstra Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of COLESGROUP DEF SET, Transurban Group, Wesfarmers Limited, and Woolworths Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended ResMed Inc. 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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