The close of the Australian corporate reporting season brings no respite for investors. Pressure on European shares and weakening oil prices could see a negative start to Asia Pacific trading, ahead of a week full of local and international data releases.
Reporters today include Harvey Norman, QBE and Lend Lease. Tomorrow will bring the last of the top 200. The overall performance is positive, with sales across the Australia 200 index up 3%. Earnings were spurred 25% higher by mining stocks, whose profitability bounced back from a low base. Consumer services, healthcare, energy and the financial sector all improved across the half year.
The problem facing investors is the relatively high price levels for shares as the globe moves into an interest rate tightening cycle. US indices are making weaker gains, and a fall on European bourses and pressure on oil markets means futures markets are indicating a 0.3% fall at the open for the ASX 200 and the Hang Seng, a 1% drop in the Nikkei. However predicting the close is made more difficult by the awakening of sleeping giants.
Large long only investors tend to hold off until the season is complete, or near. This could see a number of institutional investors starting to re-shape their investments this week. Their collective actions can shape the market performance, and positive finish today could indicate they are in play.