A veritable sea of red

With no lead from the feasting Americans it was always going to be another lacklustre session, but risk-off near-panic won out on the day. Initially, the headline act was the shellacking of Appen after a broker downgrade, closing over 18% lower. The vortex also sucking in Kogan, down another 5.3%.  Then the stories started to pour in about a new covid19 variant - B.1.1.529 - initially spooking travel stocks but then smashing the entire market.  Flight Centre and Qantas closing down 6.6% and 4.9% respectively. Green on the screen had disappeared into the close, then there was a flurry of last-minute bids for the goldies (EVN, SBM) on the risk-off trade. A blockbuster near-5% pop in October retail sales was shrugged off, however, the ‘soft’ 3% lift in Victoria was impressive given the city was out of lockdown for three days.  It’s a full macro calendar next week, with a slew of October price and activity updates to keep the pointy heads amused. For stock pickers, the AGMs continue including Mesoblast, Lynas, Orocobre and Premier Investments. The bottom line is it was a forgettable, covid-thumped Friday, the ASX200 down 128 points or 1.7% We’ll be watching the weekend headlines for any Australian government response to this new virus.

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