S&P/ASX 200 set to open lower: 7 shares to watch

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is expected to trade lower today following negative leads from international markets last week.

Here’s a recap:

  • Dow Jones (USA): down 0.32%
  • NASDAQ (USA): down 0.62%
  • FTSE 100 (UK): down 1.27%
  • DAX (Germany): down 2.73%
  • CAC 40 (France): down 2.82%

In London, the FTSE 100 ended the month lower following global market jitters and ahead of a busy week of news. FTSE-listed shares of Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) ended 1.06% and 1.27% lower, respectively.  

US markets closed lower as sluggish inflation spooked investors and concerns over Apple Inc’s exposure to China weighed on sentiment. The healthcare sector was the worst-performing, while the utilities sector gained the most ground.

Closer to home, the Sydney Futures Exchange is tipping a 6-point, or 0.1%, fall in the S&P/ASX 200.

Shares in focus today will include Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) and Southern Cross Media Group Ltd (ASX: SXL). After the market’s close on Friday, Nine Entertainment and Southern Cross Austereo announced a “landmark” agreement which will see Nine’s metropolitan television content broadcast in regional parts of Queensland, southern New South Wales and Victoria on the Austereo network.

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) will also be in focus after the big bank this morning announced a 5% rise in revenue and 3% increase in profit for its most recent half-year reporting period. The bank also held its dividend flat at 94 cents per share.

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) said the proceeds from its sale of Autohome Inc shares will be used to fund a capital management program. Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the exact details of the $1.5 billion program aren’t yet known but it is management’s intention to boost shareholder returns.

Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH) revealed its lenders agreed to terms for its existing debt facility. The next batch of maturing debt ($480 million) will not occur until May 2018.

Finally, in broker news, analysts at Goldman Sachs raised their Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) price target 3% to $112 a share, while Morgans analysts cut their Thorn Group Ltd (ASX: TGA) price target 28% to $1.74, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz owns shares of Cochlear and Slater & Gordon. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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