Steady trade as brokers wait for data

THE sharemarket is expected to open slightly higher on Monday, helping to keep it near 4700 points, after modest gains on overseas markets.

THE sharemarket is expected to open slightly higher on Monday, helping to keep it near 4700 points, after modest gains on overseas markets.

On Sunday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Futures Index showed the market was tipped to open eight points higher for the start of the second full trading week of the year.

It comes as market watchers prepare for a slew of economic data releases this week, covering the job market, inflation, lending, and consumer sentiment.

CommSec economist Craig James said there were no great drivers for the Australian market on Monday, after mixed results on Wall Street.

"It's going to be a fairly soft start to proceedings off the back of a fall in the oil price, the gold price; iron ore was down and base metal prices were mixed as well," he said.

The Australian market had recently tended to follow the Toronto stock exchange, which finished slightly higher on Friday. "Toronto finished with a slight gain and our futures market is pointing to a slight gain," he said.

Among the economic data to be released, housing finance and credit card debt lending (for November), and ANZ's job advertisements data (December) will be published on Monday.

TD Securities inflation gauge (December) will also be released on Monday.

January's consumer sentiment data will be released on Wednesday, while December's employment figures will come out on Thursday.

"Overall a mixed bag of results is likely," Mr James said. "We expect that the data will show inflation is contained, job ads and housing finance were flat, credit card debt remains on the outer."

US stocks closed in mixed territory on Friday as tepid earnings from Wells Fargo kept the markets restrained.

At the close of trade on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 17.28 points (0.13 per cent) at 13,488.50.

The broad-based S&P 500 was flat at 1472.09 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 3.87 (0.12 per cent) to 3125.63.

Europe's main stockmarkets closed with modest gains on Friday, with London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies posting the largest increase of 0.33 per cent to 6121.58 points.

Investors will be carefully monitoring US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on Monday and the release of Chinese GDP figures on Friday.

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