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Morning market movers: 15 stocks to watch

Can our market bounce back today on the back of a rally in US equities and a stronger-than-expected result from the largest Australian investment bank?

Traders don’t seem to think so as the futures market is pricing in a 0.32% slip for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) this morning.

If our market continues to finish weaker despite positive leads over the next few trading days, it will prove that the bears are back in control. It will be interesting to see how Australian stocks react on Monday to the US jobs data.

For today at least, investors will be focused on Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) as it posted 2014-15 net profit of $1.6 billion compared to consensus forecast of $1.51 billion. Management is tipping further profit growth for 2015-16.

Outdoor and automotive accessories retailer Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL) has also released its quarterly sales figures and Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) has issued a March quarter update for its banking division.

Investors will be hoping the news will cast financials in a positive light as they aren’t likely to find much cheer among resource stocks as commodity prices ended on a back-foot in overnight trade.

The iron ore price broke a three-day rally by falling 0.9% to under $US60 a tonne, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude tumbled over 3% from this year’s high to $US58.94 a barrel and copper eased 0.3% to $US2.92 a pound.

This will drag on the oil stocks like Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL), but BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) might be under the most pressure among the resources giants as its US-listed stock suffered its biggest fall of 2.2% in nearly a month.

It will be interesting to see if Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) can hold on to or build on recent gains though as BBY upgraded the stock by two full notches to “buy” from “underperform”.

That isn’t the only stock to win broker support. Shopping mall developer Scentre Group Ltd (ASX: SCG) posted a solid quarterly earnings update yesterday, and while the stock fell 1.9% to $3.69, the result was good enough for Credit Suisse to lift its rating to “outperform” from “neutral”.

On the corporate deals front, automotive dealer AP Eagers Ltd (ASX: APE) is looking at a possible bid for salary packaging company Smartgroup Corporation Ltd (ASX: SIQ), according to the Australian Financial Review.

Copper miner PanAust Limited (ASX: PNA) has gone into a trading halt as it is negotiating with its largest shareholder Guangdong Rising Assets Management about improving the latter’s takeover offer for PanAust.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that real estate investment trust Growthpoint Properties Australia Ltd (ASX: GOZ) is looking to add three Victorian properties to its portfolio that’s worth $56.9 million.

The telecom “love triangle” will also continue to dominate the spotlight as investors await M2 Group Ltd’s (ASX: MTU) response to the sweetened offer by TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM) for iiNet Limited (ASX: IIN).

Expect more volatility in the triangle.

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Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of BHP Billiton Limited, iiNet Ltd., M2 Group Ltd, PanAust Limited, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.. Follow me on Twitter -

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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