The Eye of the Hurricane

After the battering of markets in the first half of the year there is an eerie calm blanketing stock indices globally.

After the battering of markets in the first half of the year there is an eerie calm blanketing stock indices globally. Despite elevated risks, and valuations, volatility is near historic lows. The lack of movement has spread to currency and commodity markets, although traders can still rely on oil for a rowdy trading session.

Looks can also deceive. While the Australia 200 index is trapped in a 60 point range, below the surface there are strong swings as individual companies report. The action is not confined to the announcement day, with Treasury Wine estates extending its surge this week, just as Medibank Private continues to tumble.

The indication this morning is that results could have a negative effect. Monadelphous, Greencross and Virtus Health have disappointed in pre-market releases. The exception is Caltex, reporting in line with forecasts and in the upper half of its guidance range. This line up, combined with an almost 5% fall in oil prices overnight, could see local shares under pressure despite the minor overnight gain in futures markets.