A strong session on US markets with major indices closing near their highs will deliver a positive opening for the Australian market

The return of bargain hunters after a shallow correction in US markets again demonstrates that investors are reluctant to reduce exposure to equity markets  given low bond yields, solid profit growth and a lower $US. In a situation where earnings yields on stocks remain attractive in relation to bond yields, investors are reluctant to respond too negatively to “risk events” unless they represent a clear and present short term danger.

However, the recovery in global stock markets does not necessarily imply the beginning of a major new uptrend. Sharp gains in US stocks last night means that volatility remains elevated compared to recent months. Residual concerns about US politics and the Korean situation also linger. This translates into a situation where US markets may continue to provide a “firm” lead for global equities by fluctuating around recent highs in the near term.

A soft session for industrial metals may be a limiting factor on the ASX 200 rally today. That suggests today may not be the day for the local index to make any meaningful break above near term chart resistance around 5806.  Whether the ASX 200 can break the shackles of its trading range is a question that’s likely to wait for another day

Woolworth’s has produced a solid profit result, highlighted by a stellar June quarter same store sales performance by its supermarket division While management reports that sales growth in the current quarter has reverted to levels more consistent with the whole of last year, it’s clear that Woolworths’ has regained its competitive mojo. However, Big W has played its now traditional role as a drag on Woolworths’ overall result. Investors will now need to wait and see whether the newly approved strategy can get this business into a more saleable condition