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Fed speech a likely catalyst

Shares fell and bond yields rose in overnight trading as investors took cover ahead of a much anticipated speech from Fed chair Janet Yellen today. The slump came despite better than forecast US durable goods orders, with only industrial commodities showing signs of life. This lift in oil and metals has local futures markets anticipating a modest rise at this morning’s open, despite minor falls in international indices.

An Australia 200 index close today between 5505 and 5565 would complete a run of 15 days in the same territory. This low volatility comes despite 10% plus swings in individual stocks as investors react to result releases, reflecting uncertainty attached to the Fed’s stance. This may all change on Monday as markets digest Yellen’s speech and institutional investors return as the local reporting season peters out.

Trading today may also reflect $1.2 billion worth of stock than changed hands pre-market as a result of the exercise of exchange traded options. The top four stocks by value are CBA, ANZ, BHP and Macquarie Group, in that order.

The last major day of reporting season could add selling pressure as APN Super retail, Group and Star Entertainment all missed expected earnings. Coca Cola and Harvey Norman may lift the mood in reports due later today.

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