The Australian market was lower with next week’s annual reporting season looming and on investors’ minds. The ASX 200 index fluctuated within striking distance of the 5,800 point barrier mid-week due to strong commodity prices which helped drive up energy and mining stocks. The market fell to below 5,700 points on Friday though after a weak lead from Wall Street.

On a company level, Seven Group Holdings was one of the best performers on the ASX 200 following optimism over its Caterpillar franchise, WesTrac. Caterpillar raised its earnings outlook on optimism for global economic conditions which could be supportive of its machinery and construction equipment business. Personal care and hygiene company, Asaleo Care, was one of the worst performers in the index despite no news or market announcements.

In global markets, Wall Street was mixed with the start of reporting season confirming the less than stellar economic data of late, including weak inflation and a softening of industrial production numbers. All three indices however recorded all-time highs during the week supported by some better earnings results and after the Federal Reserve offered an update to its monetary policy outlook. The Fed’s statement touched on subdued inflation, giving investors the impression that the central bank would take extra care in normalising monetary policy. European markets were lower, weighed down by the stronger euro. Earnings results failed to support European markets. Asian markets were mostly higher following positive earnings results, higher crude oil prices and a more dovish U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Australian dollar was higher against major global currencies this week. The Australian dollar rose above US80c on U.S. dollar weakness following the Fed’s more dovish than expected monetary policy statement.

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