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Currency plus, stock minus

Falls in European and US shares, mixed commodities and a stronger US dollar could pressure Asia Pacific markets today. Futures markets are pointing to modest opening losses for investors in China, Japan and Australia.

Locally the Australian dollar remains under pressure after yesterday’s weaker inflation data. The implied lower interest rate environment did little for share prices ahead of key reports today. The AGM season hits full stride with directors from Challenger, JB Hifi, Cleanaway and Star Entertainment fronting shareholders. ANZ reports its half-year earnings, and Fortescue, Newcrest and Blackmores deliver quarterly operating numbers.

Outlook statements at AGMs may determine the direction of the market against a backdrop of weaker than expected US reports overnight.

ANZ’s result will likely please investors. Although the net interest margin declined, cash profit leapt 18%, costs fell in absolute terms, and bad and doubtful debts provisions slumped to just 0.21% of assets. CEO Shayne Elliot told investors the bank has “broken the back” of the reforms he regards as essential to ANZ’s future.

Currencies remain a focus as US dollar strength returns. Key exporting nations in the Asia Pacific region are viewed as beneficiaries of this shift in foreign exchange markets. Traders will look for any further forex moves to potentially reverse the initial negative stock impulse.

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