5 things to watch on the ASX 200 on Friday

A soft finish to the week is expected for Aussie investors.

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On Thursday, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) had one of its best days of the year and stormed higher. The benchmark index rose 1.2% to 7,831.8 points.

Will the market be able to build on this on Friday and end the week on a high? Here are five things to watch:

ASX 200 to edge lower

The Australian share market looks set to end the week on a subdued note despite a positive session in Europe. According to the latest SPI futures, the ASX 200 is expected to open 7 points or 0.1% lower this morning. Wall Street was closed for Independence Day, but the FTSE rose 0.85% and the DAX climbed 0.4%.

Oil prices rise

ASX 200 energy shares Beach Energy Ltd (ASX: BPT) and Karoon Energy Ltd (ASX: KAR) could have a good finish to the week after oil prices pushed higher again overnight. According to Bloomberg, the WTI crude oil price is up 0.2% to US$84.06 a barrel and the Brent crude oil price is up 0.25% to US$87.55 a barrel. Summer fuel demand optimism has boosted oil prices this week.

Buy Smartgroup shares

The Smartgroup Corporation Ltd (ASX: SIQ) share price could be great value according to analysts at Bell Potter. This morning, the broker has reaffirmed its buy rating on the salary packaging and fleet management company's shares with a trimmed price target of $10.95 (from $11.00). It said: "We have reviewed the June VFACTS data and updated our forecasts to reflect new vehicle sales and other industry developments. The YTD achievement marks a record and surpasses the previous best result in June 2018."

Gold price softens

ASX 200 gold shares Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX: EVN) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) could have an underwhelming finish to the week after the gold price softened overnight. According to CNBC, the spot gold price is down 0.2% to US$2,365.3 an ounce. This may have been driven by profit taking after a strong gain on rate cut optimism.

New Hope to make acquisition?

New Hope Corporation Ltd (ASX: NHC) shares will be on watch amid speculation the coal miner is planning a major acquisition following its $300 million convertible note issue. Bell Potter commented: "In our view, NHC are capitalising on a relatively cheap source of funding, and a recent uptick in share price to secure additional cash liquidity. We see inorganic growth as key to NHC's long-term growth outlook. The company is open about pursuing M&A opportunities within the coal sector, of which there are currently some well publicised sale processes." Bell Potter has a hold rating and $4.70 price target on its shares.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Smartgroup. 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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