Outlook: ASX looks up before RBA minutes

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks to open higher ahead of the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest meeting minutes. The minutes will come in the same month the key cash rate was kept on hold while a read on consumer confidence comes amid two weeks of declining figures.

Overnight the Nasdaq climbed to its third straight record close on the back of upbeat earnings and M&A action while the price of iron ore has lifted from recent lows. The Australian dollar and precious metal prices have continued to trade lower amid expectations the US Federal Reserve will hike rates as soon as September.   
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street saw a positive start to the new week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average firmed 0.08 per cent to close at 18,100, the S&P 500 added 0.08 per cent to close at 2,128 and the Nasdaq gained 0.2 per cent to close at 5,219.
 
European markets moved higher on Monday: London's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 per cent, France's CAC 40 gained 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX advanced 0.5 per cent.
 
Asian markets put in a mixed performance on Monday: Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a public holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.04 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 0.9 per cent.
 
Despite a sluggish start yesterday the Australian share market lifted 0.3 per cent by close: The S&P/ASX 200 Index ended 17 points higher at 5,687 on Monday. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 7:30am was buying $US0.737, 47.38 Pence Sterling, 91.61 Yen and 68.11 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Reserve Bank of Australia: Minutes from its July board meeting 
 
ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)-Roy Morgan: Weekly consumer confidence index
 
Company news
 
Australian Foundation Investment Company (ASX:AFI) has boosted its annual net profit by 15.5 per cent. Australia’s biggest licensed investment company delivered a net profit of $293.5 million on the back of a 14 per cent rise in revenue. AFI’s top investment’s over the period included Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS). The company has opted to maintain its final dividend at 14 cents per share, taking the full year payout to 23 cents per share. Shares in Australian Foundation Investment Company firmed 0.8 per cent to close at $6.30 on Monday.
 
Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX:SHL) has lowered its full year earnings guidance after experiencing softer conditions in the local pathology market. The pathology services group expects annual EBITDA to dip 3 to 4 per cent below its original forecast and come in at about $730 million. Sonic Healthcare says it has been impacted by changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule and increasing infrastructure costs. Shares in Sonic Healthcare dropped 2.79 per cent to close at $21.25 on Monday. 
 
Commodities
 
Gold has fallen $25.10 to $US1,107 an ounce for the August contract on Comex. 
Silver has dropped $0.19 to $14.64 for September. 
Copper has eased $0.01 to $2.48 a pound. 
Oil has lost $0.77 to $US50.44 a barrel for August light crude in New York.