MARKETS SPECTATOR: US rollover

The local market looks set for a weak start after Wall Street finally turned down, with defensive sectors likely to benefit.

In overnight trade, the US markets finally rolled over, declining throughout most of the session as funding fears over Spain and downbeat comments from Federal Reserve member Plosser all but cancelled out the higher start. Early on there had been a swathe of positive economic releases, including a much stronger-than-expected read into consumer confidence.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ was the biggest decliner, slipping 1.40 per cent, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.05 per cent and 0.75 per cent respectively.

Following the disappointing overnight leads, the Australian market looks set for a weak start with the S&P/ASX 200 SPI futures pointing towards a decline of 0.70 per cent to 4342 on the open.

Interestingly, although materials names were weaker in US and London trade, the actual leads from the London Metals Exchange were quite good. None the less, BHP’s ADR in the US fell 1.9 per cent and points towards a significant decline at the open. However, with base metals on the LME all up between 1 per cent and 4 per cent and iron ore prices flat at $US103.70/t, it will be worth watching the miners to see if they start to rally following their initial falls.

Elsewhere, we’re likely to see weakness across all local sectors following the broad-based selling overnight, although the typical defensive names like healthcare, utilities and telecommunications may benefit from some defensive fund flows.

With absolutely nothing due in the way of economic releases or news flow today traders are likely to be watching the happenings in Asia for further clues as to where markets are headed in the short term. Given the benchmark index has logged two down days so far this week, keep an eye out for a rally from the opening lows as participants view the declines as overdone.