S&P/ASX 200 set to open higher: 7 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 0.66%
  • NASDAQ (USA): up 0.88%
  • FTSE 100 (UK): closed for a holiday
  • DAX (Germany): up 0.84%
  • CAC 40 (France): up 0.31%

US markets kicked off the week on a stronger footing following weakness in the dollar and leads from the financial sector.

Closer to home, the Sydney Futures Exchange is tipping a 12-point, or 0.2%, rise in the S&P/ASX 200.

While international markets can set a precedent for local daily movers, local economic and company-specific news will be the key determinants of the market’s direction today. Economic news includes the release of the government’s budget and an RBA interest rates decision this afternoon.

On the market, shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) will be a hot topic. This morning, ANZ released its half-year results for the period ended 31 March 2016 showing flat revenue of $10.26 billion, but a 24% fall in cash profit to $2.78 billion. The primary catalysts behind the fall in profit were a rise in impairment charges, rise in operating expenses (primarily related to the depreciation of technology), and lower income from its funds management, insurance and non-interest businesses. ANZ declared an 80-cents-per-share dividend – down 7%.

Meanwhile, QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE) announced the appointment of Russell Johnston as CEO North America.

Cover-More Group Ltd (ASX: CVO) announced the retirement of its CEO, Peter Edwards, in 2016. Mr Edwards will be replaced by Mike Emmett.

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) shares will also be in focus after the supermarket operator announced its third quarter trading update. In its ASX update, sales were weaker with only Hotels and Home Improvement reporting sales increases. It said a comprehensive review of its General Merchandise division (i.e. Big W) is now underway.

Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) announced the divestment of LeanLogistics to Kewill for US$115 million. It said the sale won’t affect its FY16 guidance.

Finally, in broker news, UBS analysts cut their Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) price target 2.9% to $34 and also cut their Cardno Limited (ASX: CDD) price target 35% to $0.60, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

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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.

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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