The ASX-200 ended May 1.9% higher for its 12th straight monthly gain, and for that, investors can thank the big four banks.
The index topped 7,200 for the first time in history on the last day of May, but ended the day 0.3% lower at 7,161.6 points, as banks and energy companies dragged.
The 12-month rebound has added more than $860 billion to the index since it hit a floor during the coronavirus crash.
The index is now up 8.62% for 2021 as the big gains of late 2020 have gradually eased.
The gain for May can again be traced to the performance of the big four, especially the Commonwealth which hit its all-time high late last week of $110.72, but lost ground on Monday to end at $99.72.
That still left a gain for May of more than 11% and over 21% for the year to date. Westpac added 8.1% for May and a massive 36% for the first five months of 2021.
The ANZ rose 2% in May and a tasty 26.5% for the year to date. NAB shares were up 19.2% in the five months of the year after a 3.4% rise in May.
For the country’s 5th bank – Macquarie Group, May wasn’t so good. Despite reporting a record profit and higher dividend, the investment and fund management giant saw its shares slide more than 5% in the month. That still left them up 9.7% for the year to date but the problems with the post float performance of Nuix (which Macquarie floated last December making a five a billion or more profit) hasn’t endeared the bank to investors.
And May wasn’t a very good month for our trio of iron ore giants. BHP shares rose a whole 17 cents in the month to close Monday at $47.85.
That left them up 12.7% for the year, but iron ore prices peaked at all-time highs and then slid towards the end of the month and copper did the same, so BHP shares faded.
Rio Tinto shares rose Monday by half a per cent (BHP shares fell) which pushed May’s rise well over 2%. Rio shares though have not done well in the five months to May, up only 8.7%.
Fortescue Metals shares rose 1.4% on Monday but the shares actually lost 16 cents over the month. The big cost overrun on the iron Bridge export magnetite project in the Pilbara hasn’t helped the share price. That in turn has seen Fortescue shares lose more than 4% for the year.
Believe it or not Rio and Fortescue shares have not beaten the ASX 200 in the first five months of the year or in May – BHP didn’t beat the index in May as well.
The big four banks dominated as investors have gotten more confident about higher dividends later in the year – with the CBA first cab off the rank in August when its full year figures will be reported.