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S&P/ASX 200 to open higher Wednesday: 6 shares to watch

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO)(ASX: XJO) is expected to open higher on Wednesday, with shares of BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and a2 Milk Company Ltd (Australia) (ASX: A2M) in focus.

Here’s a quick recap of global markets:

  • FTSE 100 (UK): up 0.1%
  • DAX (Germany): up 0.1%
  • CAC 40 (France): up 0.2%
  • Dow Jones (USA): up 1.1%
  • NASDAQ (USA): up 0.7%

In London, shares ended mostly higher despite some mining companies ending in the red following analyst downgrades. FTSE-listed shares of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) ended 1.7% lower and 0.4% higher, respectively.

On Wall Street, company financial reports beat analyst expectations and sent markets higher.

Closer to home, the ASX 200 is expected to follow the US and open firmly higher.

BHP Billiton will be in focus after Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the mining giant’s shares to a sell. In addition, iron ore closed 0.7% lower at $US66.07 a tonne overnight, according to The Metal Bulletin

Also in focus, Independence Group NL (ASX: IGO) is expected to release its quarterly activities report today and Western Areas Ltd (ASX: WSA) also reported its quarterly activities this morning.

The a2 Milk Company share price could jump higher today following a profit upgrade by the company, in which it cited strong demand for its Platinum infant formula.

On the economic front, investors will be watching inflation data today, which is expected to increase to 2.2%. In particular, its impact on the Australian Dollar (A$) (AUDUSD) will be closely monitored.

Finally, analysts at Bell Potter downgraded Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF) shares to a ‘hold’ while Citi analysts have lowered their Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd (ASX: CCL) share price target 12% to $9.70, 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. You can follow him on Twitter @OwenRask.

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of RURALFUNDS STAPLED. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of A2 Milk. 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.