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Morning market movers: 12 stocks to watch

Our market isn’t expected to go anywhere this morning but you can expect a lot of action among the iron ore miners.

While US and European equities ended lower on Friday as most commodity prices declined, our market is tipped to hold its ground with the futures market pricing in a flat open for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

The iron ore price was the standout in a sea of red with a 3.5% surge to $US59.69 a tonne even as the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price slipped 1.7% to $US59.72 a barrel and copper retreated 1.3% to $US2.81 a pound.

The jump in iron ore and the federal government’s decision on Friday not to proceed with an inquiry into the sector will put the spotlight on BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO), but it’s their smaller rivals like Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and BC Iron Limited (ASX: BCI) that will be hogging the spotlight on takeover speculation.

Press reports this morning say that foreign buyers have applied to the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board seeking permission to invest in the iron ore sector.

Meanwhile, medical facilities operator Healthscope Ltd (ASX: HSO) is looking to sell its pathology business to private equity buyers, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Stocks that could see some downward pressure include fund manager Platinum Asset Management Limited (ASX: PTM) and airlines Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (ASX: VAH).

A major shareholder has sold 10 million shares in Platinum and the federal government is considering opening the domestic airline market in the north of the country to foreign airlines.

Investors will also be keenly watching copper producer OZ Minerals Limited (ASX: OZL) as it holds its annual general meeting today.

A few other stocks could see some active trading due to a change in the ASX 200 index.

Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd (ASX: FPH) and almond grower Select Harvests Limited (ASX: SHV) will be added to the top 200 index at the end of this week, while Novion Property Group (ASX: NVN) and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (CHESS) (ASX: SGT) will be dropped.

Novion has been acquired by Federation Centres Ltd (ASX: FDC) and Singapore Telecommunications is delisting from the Australian bourse.

Welcome to the new week!

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Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of BHP Billiton Limited and Rio Tinto Ltd.. Follow me on Twitter - https://twitter.com/brenlau

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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