As Australia’s real-estate prices fall at the fastest rate in a generation, some investors are buying property stocks in a bet that the opposition Labor Party will win Saturday’s national election.
Other investors fear a profit squeeze on health insurers after Labor promised to cap how fast premiums can rise. Short positions in the country’s biggest private health insurer have jumped.
Opinion polls are tightening but they show the center-left Labor Party, led by Bill Shorten, is ahead of the incumbent center-right Liberal-National coalition led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
In a country where elections rarely move stock prices or significantly impact the business outlook for either listed or private companies, investors are watching the vote closely.
The election falls as Australia’s 28-year run of economic growth is sputtering, and with policy differences between the major parties at their widest in years.
Attention has focused on Labor’s agenda in particular given its leading position in polls and because it has promised interventionist reforms, from lifting wages to closing tax loopholes, while the Liberals are promising to maintain the status quo.
“There’s normally not that extreme a difference between the two major parties in terms of their policies, usually it’s adjustments around the edges,” said Geoff Wilson, chief investment officer at Wilson Asset Management.
“(This time) one is big taxing, big spending, (compared) to a sort of steady-as-she-goes,” he said.