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ABC News

ASX snaps four-week losing streak, Crown shareholders back $8.9b takeover

Despite today's rebound, the ASX 200 is down 4pc since the month began. (ABC News: John Gunn)

Australian shares rebounded on Friday, driven by gains in export-centric mining stocks after the nation's largest trading partner China cut interest rates to stimulate its slowing economy.

The ASX 200 closed 1.2 per cent higher at 7,146 points, a significant improvement over yesterday's heavy losses.

The gains came despite another volatile day on Wall Street as investors weighed up the risk of rapid interest rate hikes tipping the US economy into recession.

Despite the volatility, the benchmark index managed to jump 0.9 per cent over the five days — and has finally snapped a four-week losing streak.

China cut a key lending benchmark (its five-year loan prime rate) by 15 basis points on Friday morning, which boosted sentiment on the local share market.

This particular rate influences the pricing of mortgages, and it was a sharper-than-expected cut.

By 4:30pm AEST, the Australian dollar fell slightly to 70.4 US cents, though that was after a 1.3 per cent rebound overnight.

The local currency was "underpinned by a weaker US dollar and news that Shanghai ports have resumed 90 per cent of cargo handling capacity," said Commonwealth Bank currency strategist Carol Kong.

""We remain confident the Australian dollar can rebound strongly once lockdowns are eased because of China's commitment to ramp up infrastructure spending."

Crown shareholders approve $8.9b buyout

Shareholders of casino operator Crown Resorts have approved a $8.9 billion buyout by US private equity giant Blackstone, with 99.9 per cent of the votes cast at its scheme meeting in favour of the deal.

Last month, Crown had postponed its scheme meeting, saying that Blackstone had made good progress in obtaining the gaming regulatory approvals, but have not yet obtained the necessary approvals.

The voting results take billionaire James Packer one step closer to an exit route from the embattled casino firm hit by scandals and regulatory setbacks and effectively ending one of Australia's most storied business dynasties.

Crown said it had scheduled a court hearing for the scheme on May 24.

Mr Packer, Crown's biggest shareholder and founder, will cash in his chips, worth about $3.3 billion, a decade and a half after he created the company.

Crown shares closed 0.2 per cent higher at $12.84.

Meanwhile, today's best performing local stocks include Life360 (+12.1pc), Altium (+6.2pc), Novonix (+11.7pc), Allkem (+5.2pc) and Chalice Mining (+19.1pc).

Chalice shares jumped after the company said it had received final approval for exploration drilling to begin at its Julimar Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Element project in Western Australia.

Blue-chip stocks like REA Group (+3.9pc), APA (+3.6pc), Fortescue Metals (+3.9pc) and Domain (+2.5pc) also helped to drive the market higher.

Woolworths to buy majority stake in MyDeal

Supermarket giant Woolworths has offered to buy 80 per cent stake in online retailer MyDeal, as it looks to take on major internet retail giants operating in the country, namely Amazon.

The $217.4 million deal involves Woolworths paying $1.05 for every share of MyDeal — a near 63 per cent premium to the stock's last close on Thursday.

MyDeal's shares surged about 56 per cent and were on track to see their best day ever.

Almost 60 per cent of the shares being sold to Woolworths will be from the stake of Sean Senvirtne, MyDeal's chief executive. He will also hold the remaining interest in the company.

Analysts at Barrenjoey said in a note that the acquisition looks to be a tacit acknowledgement that Woolworths' marketplace isn't gaining traction.

"Woolworths has struggled to generate returns in non-food businesses, so we question why they would allocate capital like this."

Alarm bells are ringing over a possible recession.(David Chau)

Wall Street extends losses

Goldman Sachs strategists predicted a 35 per cent chance of the US falling into recession in the next two years. The Wells Fargo Investment Institute, meanwhile, expects a mild US recession at the end of 2022 and early 2023.

On US markets, the S&P 500 closed 0.6 per cent lower, at 3,901 points. The day before, it plunged by more than 4 per cent — its worst one-day loss since June 2020.

The Nasdaq slipped by 0.3 per cent to 11,389, while the Dow Jones index dropped 0.8 per cent to 31,253.

The S&P 500 has fallen 18 per cent from its January record high, with surging inflation, geopolitical uncertainty stemming from the war in Ukraine and the US Federal Reserve's rate hikes clouding the economic outlook.

If the S&P closes closes 20 per cent or more below its record high, it would confirm the benchmark index has slid into a bear market.

'Increased volatility' to persevere for months 

Wall Street was dragged down by shares of tech giant Cisco Systems, which slumped 13.7 per cent after it gave a dismal outlook.

The networking gear maker lowered its 2022 revenue growth outlook, taking a hit from its Russia exit and component shortages related to COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

Apple and chipmaker Broadcom declined 2.5 and 4.3 per cent, respectively.

"The reality is that inflation is running hot and interest rates are rising," Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, said.

"Until you get that inflation rate to start slowing, we're going to have increased volatility, and in our view that continues through throughout most of the summer months."

Twitter climbed 1.2 per cent after Bloomberg reported that company executives told staff that Elon Musk's $US44-billion deal was proceeding as expected and they would not renegotiate the price.

Oil prices rallied as China's officials planned to ease restrictions in Shanghai, which could further tighten global energy supply, and as the dollar retreated.

Brent crude futures jumped 2.1 per cent, to $US111.37 a barrel.

Spot gold lifted 1.4 per cent, to $US1,841.58 an ounce.