5 things to watch on the ASX on Thursday

On Wednesday the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) continued its strong run and rose a solid 0.75% to 6,352.2 points.

Will the market be able to build on this on Thursday? Here are five things to watch:

ASX futures pointing higher.

According to the latest SPI futures, the Australian share market is expected to open 14 points or 0.2% higher on Thursday. This follows a solid night of trade on Wall Street which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb 0.2%, the S&P 500 push 0.6% higher, and the Nasdaq jump 1%.

Westpac raises rates.

A late surge in the share prices of Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and the rest of the big four banks helped drive the local market higher on Wednesday. Investors responded positively to news that Westpac will lift all variable mortgage rates by 14 basis points on September 19. This will see the standard variable home loan rate for owner occupiers with principal and interest repayments rise to 5.38%. The other banks are expected to follow Westpac’s lead in the coming days.

Oil prices surge higher.

After a spot of weakness a day earlier, oil prices have surged higher overnight after Energy Information Administrations’ latest weekly petroleum status report showed a 2.6 million draw in crude oil inventories. Forecasts had been for a draw of 1.5 million barrels for the week ended August 24. This news could give the shares of energy producers Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) a boost on Thursday.

Ainsworth Game Technology results.

After the market close on Wednesday Ainsworth Game Technology Limited (ASX: AGI) released a reasonably positive full year result. Although the game technology company posted a sharp decline in profits, its second half performance was significantly better than the prior half. This could be a sign that the company is over the worst of its issues now.

Ramsay Health Care results due to be released.

Private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) is expected to release its full year results this morning. While a soft result is expected due to tough trading conditions across its business, all eyes will be on its guidance for the year ahead.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Ramsay Health Care Limited. 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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