S&P/ASX 200 to open higher: 9 shares to watch

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is expected to trade higher today following mixed leads from international markets overnight.

Here’s a recap:

  • Dow Jones (USA): up 0.26%
  • NASDAQ (USA): up 0.09%
  • FTSE 100 (UK): down 0.27%
  • DAX (Germany): down 0.25%
  • CAC 40 (France): down 0.20%

In Europe, markets closed lower slightly despite robust performances from mining and energy shares. FTSE-listed shares of BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) closed 2.65% and 2.3% higher, respectively.

In the US, markets traded mostly sideways ahead of Friday’s U.S. jobs numbers. The energy, materials and financial sectors again rose ahead of the market.

Closer to home, the S&P/ASX 200 is expected to trade 5 points, or 0.1% higher today according to the Sydney Futures Exchange.

Shares in focus will include BHP Billiton. This morning, leading global credit rating agency, Moody’s, lowered the rating of BHP from A1 to A3 negative outlook. Moody’s said it expects the fall in commodity prices is a “fundamental shift in the operating environment beyond a normal cyclical downturn” and will adversely impact BHP’s key credit metrics.

Building products business, CSR Limited (ASX: CSR), announced it will conduct an on-market share buyback of up to $150 million worth of ordinary shares. CSR Managing Director, Rob Sindel, said it will complement the group’s dividend payments in returning excess funds to shareholders.

“This has positioned us well, with a strong balance sheet and operating cash flows that will allow us to undertake capital management initiatives to improve shareholder returns while supporting our strategy to invest in new building systems and services for our customers,” Mr Sindel said.

Junior gold miner Silver Lake Resources Limited. (ASX: SLR) said its Maxwells exploration program had intercepted visible gold on all 12 drill holes.

SG Fleet Group Ltd (ASX: SGF) announced it has been appointed as a provider of fleet management services to the New South Wales government.

Finally, shares of Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL), Pacific Brands Limited (ASX: PBG), InvoCare Limited (ASX: IVC), Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) and Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL) are expected to go ‘ex-dividend’ today.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any company mentioned. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. 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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