5 things to watch on the ASX on Thursday

On Wednesday the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) slipped a touch lower and finished the day at 6,275.7 points.

Will things be better on Thursday? Here are five things to watch:

ASX futures pointing lower.

The Australian share market is expected to open the day lower on Thursday. At the time of writing SPI futures are pointing to a 0.4% or 26-point decline at the open. This follows a tough night of trade in Europe and on Wall Street. In London the FTSE fell 1.2% and in New York the Dow Jones was down 0.3% and the S&P 500 fell 0.1%. The Nasdaq rose almost 0.5% thanks to a strong rise in the Apple share price following its quarterly results release.

President Trump threatens to lift tariffs.

U.S. markets dropped lower on the back of escalating trade war concerns. According to CNBC, President Trump has told his top trade official to consider raising the proposed tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. China has accused the U.S. of blackmail and vowed to retaliate.

Oil prices tumble.

Escalating trade war concerns led to commodity prices tumbling overnight. Oil prices were among the worst performers and fell heavily. According to Bloomberg, the WTI crude oil price fell 1.6% to US$67.66 a barrel and the Brent Crude oil price fell 2.1% to US$72.64 a barrel. This could weigh on the performance of shares such as Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) today.

Rio Tinto results.

After the market closed on Wednesday mining giant Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) announced its half-year results which revealed a 12% increase in underlying earnings to US$4.4 billion. In addition to this, management announced a record interim dividend and a US$1 billion expansion to its share buyback program. Rio Tinto’s shares fell 3% in London along with industry peer BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP).

U.S. Fed keeps rates on hold.

As was widely expected, overnight the U.S. Federal Reserve elected to keep rates on hold in the 1.75% to 2% range. But the market continues to expect two further rate hikes this year, with one in September and the other in December.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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 Scott Phillips.

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