Rallies on European bourses, a weaker USD and surging base metals prices indicate further gains for Asia Pacific indices today. US shares rose modestly despite poor news flow. Against this positive backdrop Australian trading will focus on corporate results and jobs data due this morning.
US investors shrugged off Fed fretting over low inflation, weaker than forecast housing data and crumbling business support for the White House to maintain stock market levels within 1% of all-time highs. USD weakness followed the release of FOMC minutes that indicated “many” members feared inflation will stay lower for longer.
This fed into the rally in base metals as traders eyed stronger China demand and supply cuts. Zinc leapt 5%, copper gained almost 3% and iron ore lifted after trading lower over the previous three sessions. Oil was the exception. Despite a 9 million barrel draw down on crude, steady petroleum data and another increase in US production smashed crude prices. This could see a rotation out of energy stocks and into miners today.
The Australian reporting season approaches the half way mark with data from 84 of the top companies. The picture is supportive so far, with average sales and profits growing at rates between 6% and 7%. Mirvac followed others in the property sector, lifting profits on the back of property revaluations and increased retail activity. QBE, ABC and Breville unveiled numbers broadly in line, but the focus will likely turn to Telstra. A drop in revenue and a cut to the much treasured dividend could see investors sell the fact after a strong rally in Telstra shares over the week.
The ABS is expected to report an increase of 20,000 jobs this morning. Participation and unemployment are forecast unchanged at 65% and 5.6% respectively. Although a positive start to share trading is anticipated any disappointment on these numbers could derail investor enthusiasm. A stronger Australian dollar may also spark international selling.