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5 things to watch on the ASX on Wednesday

On Tuesday the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) finished the day 0.8% higher at 5,857 points thanks to strong gains in the financial and materials sectors from the likes of Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO).

Will there be more of the same on Wednesday? Here are five things that could shape the day ahead:

ASX futures are pointing down.

According to the latest ASX futures, the local market is poised to open the day down by 9 points on Wednesday. This is despite strong gains being made on Wall Street overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day 1.8% higher, the S&P 500 was up 1.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite lifted 2.1% thanks partly to a strong rebound in the Facebook share price

BHP and Rio Tinto could be set for a strong day.

The US-listed shares of BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto surged higher overnight, finishing the U.S. session up 4.9% and 4.3%, respectively. With fears of a global trade war easing after President Xi’s speech at Boao yesterday, investors appear confident that global economic growth and demand for commodities will remain strong.

The oil price is rising.

The oil price has climbed higher once again. According to Bloomberg, WTI crude oil rose 3.4% to US$65.58 a barrel and Brent crude oil lifted 3.5% to US$71.05 a barrel, bringing their two-day gains to more than 5%. While this is great news for the likes of Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) and Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH), it isn’t for Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN). Global airline shares tumbled overnight in response to the rise in oil prices.

The Australian dollar is on the up.

President XI’s speech in Boao not only eased concerns of a trade war but sent the Australian dollar hurtling higher against the U.S. dollar. At the time of writing the Aussie is fetching 77.6 U.S. cents, up almost 1% since this time yesterday.

Local data releases.

Today will see the release of the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment index for March. Last month the data revealed that consumer sentiment fell by 2.3% to 102.7 in February from 105.1 in January. In addition to this, RBA Governor Philip Lowe is scheduled to give a speech on Wednesday.

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James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Facebook. 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 Scott Phillips.

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