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5 things to watch on the ASX on Thursday

On Wednesday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) made it three days of declines out of three this week when it dropped 0.15% to 6,032.5 points.

Will Thursday be a much-needed improvement for the Australian share market? Here are five things that could shape today’s trade:

ASX futures are pointing lower.

According to the latest SPI futures, the Australian share market is expected to open 14 points or 0.2% lower on Thursday. This decline comes despite a positive session on Wall Street overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day 0.2% higher, the S&P 500 was up 0.3%, and the Nasdaq was 0.6% higher.

Aristocrat Leisure results.

This morning gaming technology company Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) is due to release its first-half results and expectations are high. According to Goldman Sachs, the broker is looking for sales growth of 32% to $1,635 million, EBITA growth of 17% to $704 million, and net profit after tax growth of 14.4% to $312 million. For the full-year the broker expects net profit after tax of $732 million, compared to the Bloomberg consensus median estimate of $701 million.

The Royal Commission continues.

This morning the Royal Commission continues its focus on small business lending. Yesterday Bank of Queensland Limited (ASX: BOQ) took to the stand. The Commission heard how a primary school teacher purchased two Wendy’s franchises, only for the regional bank to double her monthly interest payments once it became too late for her to pull out of the contracts. Things didn’t end well, unfortunately.

Federal Reserve in no rush to raise rates.

Bond proxies such as Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) could be given a lift today after the U.S. Federal Reserve said there was no rush to raise rates in its minutes. The FOMC minutes revealed that the central bank was in no hurry to accelerate the pace of rate hikes even though the economy continues to improve. A hike next month, however, is very much in play. Yields on 10-year Treasuries dropped below 3%.

Gold miners could move higher.

The FOMC minutes also gave the gold price a much-needed lift to US$1,293 an ounce. This could put gold miners such as Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) and St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) in a position for a positive day of trade. However, the gold price is still trading within sight of its lowest level in 2018.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Transurban Group. 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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