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5 things to watch on the ASX 200 on Thursday

On Wednesday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) returned to form and pushed 0.75% higher to 6,245.6 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 ASX 200 is expected to open the day higher on Thursday. Current futures contracts are pointing to the index opening the day up 0.2% or 12 points. This is despite it being a disappointing night of trade on Wall Street, which late in the session sees the Dow Jones down 0.4%, the S&P 500 off 0.5%, and the Nasdaq 0.7% lower.

Oil prices mixed.

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) shares will be on watch on Thursday after oil prices had a mixed night of trade. According to Bloomberg, the WTI crude oil price has fallen 0.6% to US$56.24 a barrel and the Brent crude oil price has pushed 0.2% higher to US$66.01 a barrel. The catalyst for the weakness in the WTI price was a rise in U.S. stockpiles.

Rio Tinto shares to slide lower.

The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price is expected to be a major drag on the market today when its shares trade ex-dividend for the mining giant’s final and special dividends. Rio Tinto is paying shareholders a 180 U.S. cents (256 Australian cents) per share final dividend and a 243 U.S. cents (345 Australian cents) per share special dividend. This could mean its shares trade around 6.2% lower today. BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) shares are also trading ex-dividend today.

Shares going ex-dividend.

BHP and Rio Tinto aren’t the only shares trading ex-dividend this morning. Also trading without the rights to their latest dividends are the shares of Australian stock exchange operator ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX), corporate travel specialist Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD), mining services company Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX: MND), insurance giant QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE), mining giant South32 Ltd (ASX: S32), and wine giant Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX: TWE).

NEXTDC blames algorithmic trading for decline.

The NEXTDC Ltd (ASX: NXT) share price will be on watch on Thursday after the data centre operator’s CEO, Craig Scroggie, blamed the rise of algorithmic trading for its 11% decline since the release of its results. According to the AFR, Mr Scroggie also advised that major shareholders agree that the share-price movement did not reflect their sentiments about the company.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of NEXTDC Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Corporate Travel Management Limited and Treasury Wine Estates Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of ASX 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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