The Australian market is expected to start the week flat as investors wait to see earnings results for a swathe of firms.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday closed down 0.3 per cent at 6,071.5 points while the broader All Ordinaries eased 0.4 per cent.
‘It looks like we’ll be pretty flat,’ AMP Capital’s chief economist Shane Oliver told AAP on Sunday.
‘I suspect we’ll open a little soft but may be down five points or something like that.’
In the US, positive corporate results on Friday offset lingering scepticism over the China trade deal being solved before a March 1 deadline as the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq both enjoyed gains of about 0.1 per cent.
Yet, the Dow Jones shed 0.25 per cent.
Locally, corporate reporting season reaches top gear with Amcor, Bendigo Bank, JB Hi-Fi and real estate investors GPT are all due to release earnings results on Monday.
Telstra, Transurban, CSL, Woodside, AMP and Cochlear are among the major companies expected to follow later in the week.
Dr Oliver said he expected results will be mixed but forecast retailers, in particular, will show signs of recent struggles while building materials figures will point to the early stages of a construction slowdown.
‘The earnings expectations for this financial year have fallen quite substantially to about four per cent growth, and excluding the resources, it’s just two per cent growth,’ he said.
‘There have been quite a few profit warnings (but) they’ll probably show growth on average.’
Dr Oliver said recent adverse news, such as the Reserve Bank downgrading its key economic forecasts, may weigh on ANZ’s weekly consumer confidence index, out Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NAB’s monthly business survey, also out Tuesday, will be watched closely to see if a decline in business conditions in December was sustained through January.
Overseas, figures on Chinese inflation and January trade data is due later in the week while a report on the US auto sector and tariffs on Europe could weigh on investors globally.
Investors will also be watching developments in the US-China trade dispute and US government shutdown, which may restart Friday evening when a temporary spending bill expires.
Dr Oliver said the Australian dollar would continue to bounce around 71 US cents as it continued a broader trend down.
It closed the week at 70.85 US cents, having started 72.48 on Monday.