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ASX may start flat despite Wall St gains

Australian shares appear set for a modest start despite gains on Wall Street overnight.

The benchmark SPI 200 futures contract was up 5 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 5,373.0 at 0800 AEST on Friday.

Stocks globally were bolstered on Thursday after Beijing reported a better than expected rise in exports in April, confounding expectations of a sharp fall. The US markets were also bolstered by upbeat earnings reports.

That mitigated the impact of US claims for unemployment benefits totalling a 3.169 million for the week ended May 2.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.89 per cent, to 23,875.89, the S&P 500 gained 1.15 per cent, to 2,881.19, and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.41 per cent, to 8,979.66.

Meanwhile the Reserve Bank is due to give its Statement on Monetary Policy later on Friday, after leaving the cash rate at 0.25 per cent on Tuesday.

Governor Philip Lowe will provide an updated forecast of how the board expects the economy to change during the coronavirus crisis.

Elsewhere, Macquarie Bank will issue its full year results, Orica will publish its half year results, and AMP and funerals provider Invocare will host virtual annual general meetings.

AMP has shelved its decision to divest its New Zealand wealth management operations, following the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished Thursday down 20.4 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 5,364.2, while the All Ordinaries index was down 14.9 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 5,449.9.

One Australian dollar buys 64.95 US cents at 0800 AEST, up from 64.54 US cents at Thursday’s close.

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