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News: Outlook: ASX looks to lift before RBA rate call

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    The Australian share market looks to lift after Wall Street rebounded and ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s first rate call of the year. US stocks gained momentum on Monday as higher oil prices helped to offset earlier falls on the back of weaker than expected manufacturing figures. 
    Closer to home the Australian dollar has bounced back above $US0.78 ahead of the central bank’s highly anticipated interest rate decision this morning. Most economists expect the key cash rate to stay at a record low of 2.5 per cent but some, such as Westpac Banking Croporation's (ASX:WBC) Chief Economist Bill Evans, have predicted a cut to 2.25 per cent.  
    Global markets
    Wall Street advanced into the new trading week and month: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 1.1 per cent to close at 17,361, the S&P 500 increased 1.3 per cent to close at 2,021 and the Nasdaq put on 0.9 per cent to close at 4,677.
    European markets gained ground on Monday: London's FTSE 100 added 0.5 per cent, France's CAC 40 gained 0.5 per cent and Germany's DAX jumped 1.3 per cent.
    Asian markets stumbled into the first week of February: Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 2.6 per cent.
    The Australian share market climbed for its eighth straight session to hit a five-week high yesterday ahead of today’s rate call: The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 37 points to close 0.7 per cent stronger at 5,625 on Monday. On the futures market the SPI is 42 points higher. 
    The Australian dollar at 8:20am was buying $US0.7805, 51.94 Pence Sterling, 91.71 Yen and 68.86 Euro cents.
    Economic news due out today 
    Reserve Bank of Australia: February board meeting and interest rate decision
    Australian Bureau of Statistics: Building approvals and international trade in goods and services data for December
    Dun and Bradstreet: Business expectations survey
    ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)-Roy Morgan: Weekly consumer confidence survey
    Executive changes 
    Amid rising controversy on social media newly listed PhytoTech Medical Limited (ASX:PYL) has advised its founder Ross Smith has resigned as a director. The first medical marijuana company to list on the ASX did not offer a reason for his departure but thanked him for his hard work and perseverance. Mr Smith says he will continue to stay in Israel looking for the next big thing in biotechnology and technology and is confident PhytoTech will go on to become “a huge success”. The departure comes amid reports Mr Smith had posted slanderous comments on social media platforms which he claims were a result of hackers. Shares in PhytoTech Medical shed 11.58 per cent to close at $0.42 on Monday following the announcement. 
    Wealth management company Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT) has announced its deputy head of equities and portfolio manager Paul Skamvougeras has been promoted to its new head of equities. The appointment replaces veteran Matt Williams who will retire at the end of September after 22 years with the company. CEO and Managing Director Geoff Lloyd says Perpetual’s team is as strong as it has ever been and the latest moves reflects the company’s strong focus on succession planning. Shares in Perpetual lost 2.09 per cent to close at $48.15 on Monday following the announcement. 

    Gold has dropped $4.10 to $US1,275 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
    Silver is flat at $17.20 for March. 
    Copper has firmed $0.01 to $2.50 a pound. 
    Oil has gained $1.56 to $US49.80 a barrel for February light crude in New York.
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