News flow from the reporting season is starting to ramp up as the Reserve Bank hands in its interest rate decision this afternoon.
While traders are predicting a calm open for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) with the index tipped to dip 0.1% into the red, I suspect we will see a more volatile day than what the futures market is anticipating.
Any weakness in the market is probably going to be driven by energy stocks like Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) and Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) as the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price tumbled 3.9% to $US46.30 a barrel.
Most commodities fell in unison but iron ore managed to buck the trend with a 4.2% surge to its highest level since July 30 of $US55.63 a tonne. The steel making ingredient has been bolstered by speculation that the Chinese government will be forced to stimulate its economy after yesterday’s disappointing manufacturing data.
Thankfully there’s earnings news to distract investors from the commodities rout. Banking and insurance group Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) reported a 55% increase in group net profit of $1.13 billion for the year ended 2014-15 and said it will pay a special dividend of 12 cents a share on top of its final dividend of 38 cents a share.
Debt collection agency Credit Corp Group Limited (ASX: CCP) is also expected to hand in its full year earnings report card later today.
Retailers like Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) and Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN) will also be in the spotlight as second quarter retail figures are released later this morning along with the trade deficit figure.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will hand in its interest rate decision at 2.30pm this afternoon and economists are expecting it to keep rates steady at a record low of 2%, although experts will be combing the RBA’s statement for hints on another rate cut before the end of the year.
On the takeover front, Affinity Education Group Ltd (ASX: AFJ) will remain in focus as the Australian Financial Review reports that private equity firm Anchorage Capital has submitted a rival bid. G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM) sweetened its offer for its rival childcare centre operator yesterday, and as I suggested private equity interest in Affinity cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, property investment company Cromwell Group (ASX: CMW) has received an offer for its Box Hill Trust from Korea’s FG Asset Management, according to the AFR, and integrated energy company Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) has raised $NZ1.8 billion ($1.62 billion) after it sold its 53.09% stake in Contact Energy for $NZ4.65 a share.