Australian shares end lower, pulled down by the big miners, while the banks close mainly higher.

5.24pm: That's all from us here at Markets Live, we've enjoyed your company. We'll be back tomorrow from 9.30am.

For a full wrap of today's session click here.

5.14pm: The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0220 after hitting a low just after noon of $US1.0202. It touched $US1.0149 on October 8, the lowest since July.

Traders cited dovish comments from Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens in Tokyo last Friday as a reason for the softness in the Aussie.

"In the near term, I'm mildly bearish [on the Australian dollar]," says Joseph Capurso, a currency strategist at the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. "You do have an RBA governor that's quite dovish."

5.09pm: European stock index futures are pointing to a lower start, with weaker commodity prices on persistent concerns about global economic growth seen hitting mining and energy shares.

Futures for Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX and France's CAC are 0.1 to 0.3 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, Dow and S&P500 futures are minimally higher.

4.38pm: The taxpayer-owned Future Fund spent more than $37 million investing in tobacco stocks at the same time as the government was finalising its world-first plain packaging laws.

In a move that has sparked fierce criticism from health groups, the fund’s stake in global tobacco companies has swelled by near 50 per cent in recent years to $210 million at the end of June.

Until now, the fund has not said if had been actively buying more stock or if the shares had risen in value – as tobacco shares have performed strongly recently.

Now, however, the fund has revealed it managers have been buying more shares in tobacco companies before February this year.

4.28pm: Here's how some of the blue chips performed:

  • BHP: -0.6%
  • Rio -1%
  • ANZ: +0.4%
  • CBA: +0.1%
  • NAB: +0.5%
  • Westpac: flat
  • Fortescue: -3.4%
  • Woolies: +0.5%
  • Wesfarmers: +0.3%
  • Telstra: +0.25%

Billabong slumped 6.6 per cent to a new record low of 78 cents.

Then there's Ten, which dropped 5.4 per cent to 35 cents, hitting the all-time low it touched in September.

4.19pm: Among the major sectors, materials lost 0.8 per cent, energy fell 0.4 per cent, but financials gained 0.3 per cent.

4.16pm: The sharemarket has closed slightly lower. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index slipped 3.2 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4483.4, while the broader All Ords lost 4.6 per cent, or 0.1 per cent, to 4505.5.

4.03pm: One of the biggest losers today is Ten - shares are down more than 5 per cent.

Investors are selling  on speculation as to whether or not the buyer that is considering buying its outdoor advertising business, Eye Corp, is going to walk away, says CommSec market analyst Juliette Saly:

"Apparently it’s been looking at the books and isn’t entirely convinced. Ten says though, the talks still continue."

3.56pm: Tonight, the US will publish the September retail sales statistics. Economists expect a gain of 0.7 per cent, but if previous years are anything to go by the recent launch of the iPhone 5 may mean that prediction is too conservative:

Indeed, the iPhone 5 is so big that JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli estimates that it'll boost Q4 GDP by 0.33 percentage point.

The Wall Street Journal's Spencer Jakob looked back at how retail sales reports performed against economists' expectations during months when new iPhones were launched. Here's the pattern:

  • iPhone 3GS launched in June 2009, +0.5% expected, +1.22% actual
  • iPhone 4 launched in June 2010, -0.3% expected, +0.3% actual
  • iPhone 4s launched in October 2011, +0.1% expected, +0.93 % actual

3.48pm: Another bad day for Billabong shareholders - the stock is down 5.4 per cent at 79 cents, after earlier today hitting a new all-time low of 78 cents.

3.38pm: The Australian sharemarket traded in rudderless fashion to start the week, with investors showing surprising indifference to strong Chinese trade data published on Saturday, CMC Markets trader Tim Waterer says:

  • Commodity price weakness weighed on the key mining stocks which contributed to an overall lethargic performance of the local index.
  • Tomorrow, the release of RBA monetary policy minutes will be closely scrutinised with a view to potentially more interest rate action on the first Tuesday of November.

3.27pm: In the US, Advanced Micro Devices’s credit rating may fall deeper into speculative grade after the second- largest maker of processors for personal computers cut its sales forecast with tablet and smartphone growth sapping demand.

Credit-default swaps tied to the Sunnyvale, California- based company imply it should be rated B3, or three levels below its current Ba3 grade, according to Moody’s capital markets research group. The premium investors demand to hold AMD bonds rather than government securities is 1.65 percentage points greater than the average for B rated debt.

3.20pm: Talk about lack of surprises - No surprises in today's Chinese inflation releases, HSBC says:

  • Both headline CPI and PPI remain muted: food prices eased along with the improving supply of fresh vegetables; the pick-up of non-food prices, mainly reflected the pass-through of gasoline prices hikes and the level of non-food CPI remains low; demand for producer goods remains weak, despite the marginal improvement.
  • Going forward, headline CPI is likely to rebound modestly in the coming months, thanks to a low base effect and the likely gradual recovery of demand. 

3.16pm: In a session that has to be described as pretty dull, one surprise stands out: BlueScope is the best performer among the top 200 stocks, rising 4.5 per cent. Happy for any explanation for the rise.

3.12pm: Victoria booked a $144 million surplus as expected last financial year, excluding Commonwealth payments initially planned for 2012-13.

The result is almost $4 million better than forecast in the May budget.

Treasurer Kim Wells said the Commonwealth brought forward a number of payments that were scheduled for 2012-13, which boosted the general government operating result to $571 million in 2011/12.

2.53pm: The federal government will amend unfair dismissal laws under recommended changes to bring the Fair Work Act up to date, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says.

Mr Shorten met union and business representatives of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council to advise them of Labor’s first response to a review of the act released in August.

The government now plans to draft legislation this year to support 17 of the council’s 51 recommendations, the most important of which concerns unfair dismissal laws affecting small and medium-sized business.

2.38pm: Australia could be the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) within five years if the current boom continues, the federal government says.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told an Australian Pipeline Industry Association conference that the country exported 20 million tonnes of LNG worth $10.4 billion in 2010-11.

Australia’s refining capacity was rising, along with exports, and there was a steady pipeline of planned projects, he said.

‘‘We are now the third-largest LNG exporter in the Asia-Pacific region and the fourth largest in the world,’’  Ferguson said. ‘‘Our exports are forecast to grow by a further 19 per cent in 2012-13.’’

2.26pm: Packaging company Amcor has sold three of its flexible packaging plants in Australasia to Integrated Packaging for $22 million.

Amcor said the sites were acquired as part of the Aperio acquisition and focused on non-core industrial and agricultural markets.

2.13pm: The dollar has also just hit the day's low against the greenback, briefly touch ing $US1.02 before climbing back up to $US1.0212.

The Aussie hardly reacted to Chinese inflation figures that were in line with expectations, after rising in early trade in reaction to strong Chinese trade data posted on the weekend.

2.09pm: As the local market hovers near the day's lows, here's how the rest of the region is doing:

  • Japan (Nikkei): flat
  • Hong Kong: -0.2%
  • Shanghai: -0.5%
  • Taiwan: -0.4%
  • Korea: -0.3%
  • Singapore: -0.1%
  • New Zealand: +0.3%

2.06pm: About two-thirds of people are confident about their own finances, according to a new index of sentiment, but only 44 per cent are upbeat about the Aussie economy.

So how do you feel?

1.54pm: With inflation clearly under control, Chinese authorities have significant scope to ease policy settings if they so desire, CommSec chief economic Craig James says:

  • However, the simple fact is that authorities haven’t been in a rush to boost activity, believing that the new economic growth target of 7.5 per cent is a more appropriate and sustainable pace for the maturing economy.
  • The next major test for the economy is on Thursday when September quarter economic growth figures are released together with monthly results for retail spending, production or investment.
  • If economic growth prints close to market forecasts of 7.4 per cent then the authorities may maintain their guarded approach about the need to stimulate the economy.
  • Chinese policymakers would have to be delighted about the “soft landing” they have engineered. Inflation is under control, money supply growth is lifting modestly as is the trade surplus.
  • And policymakers have significant flexibility to either cut interest rates or reduce bank reserve requirements show they elect to lift the growth profile of the economy.

1.48pm: The huge audience drop for Homeland raises serious questions about the challenges facing traditional TV, Adele Ferguson and Michael Idato write:

The brutal reality is this: content that has screened in other parts of the world is increasingly subject to online piracy and other bypassing platforms such as iTunes, DVD and websites that allow internet browsers to get around "geo-blocks" on content.

These shows are always absent the ads and can be watched at any time, rather than at a time dictated by the TV station.

The traditional TV model is under attack, particularly with regard to big output that is already running in the US. Although Ten fast-tracked Homeland, it wasn't fast enough.

Here's the full story

1.41pm: Some more on the positive home loans data: 4Cast Ltd economist Celeste Tay says better housing affordability linked to lower mortgage rates appears to be supporting demand for home loans, which have in turn lifted auction clearance rates:

  • We expect an additional 50 basis points worth of cuts to the RBA's cash rate will remain supportive of housing demand.
  • However, against an uncertain domestic picture, in part due to the impending end of the mining boom alongside structural change, we expect lingering household caution will unlikely see a more gradual lift in housing demand.

1.24pm: Gold has slipped today to the lowest level in more than two weeks on speculation that China may not need additional stimulus after exports grew more than estimated in September. The dip follows data yesterday showing China's exports grew strongly in September.

Gold for immediate delivery fell as much as 0.7 per cent to $US1,741.75 an ounce, the lowest price since September 26, before trading at $US1,744.10.

1.16pm: ANZ analysts have looked at the China CPI data released a short time and concluded that China’s near term inflation pressures will remain benign, ‘‘with an average CPI inflation this year at 3%, way below the 4% target’’.

Today’s inflation data, together with some forward-looking activity data, suggest the slack in the economy remains large.

We maintain our view that the reverse repo operations have not been effective in boosting growth, and the recent large amount of short-term reverse repo injections has made money market rates more volatile.

It is time for the PBOC to revert to reserve requirement ratio cut to arrest a sharper-than-expected economic downturn.

1.06pm: CBA’s economics department have taken a look at this morning’s housing data, which showed home loans rose more than expected in August. CBA's Michael Workman notes:

The August housing finance outcome does seem to partly reflect the 75bps worth of interest rate cuts over May and June. The August result loosely follows the usual post-rate cut trajectory evident for housing lending.

However, the rate cut response is clearly more muted compared to previous episodes, which is a reflection of the “cautious consumer” who chooses to save rather than take on additional debt.

We continue to expect an uplift in housing activity going forward. 

Since November 2011, there has been 150bpts worth of interest rate cuts which have moved interest rates well into “stimulatory territory”.

12.59pm: The worst-performng companies on the ASX200 at lunchtime include:

  • Resolute Mining: -6.81%
  • Alacer Gold: -5.54%
  • Lynas: -4.93%
  • Ten Network: -4.05%
  • Whitehaven Coal: -3.73%

12.56pm: The best-performing companies on the ASX200 at lunchtime include:

  • Intrepid Mines: +4.48%
  • Bluescope Steel: +2.60%
  • Telecom New Zealand: +2.16%
  • Downer EDI: +1.97%
  • Leighton: +1.86%

12.52: And the sectors trading in negative territory include:

  • Materials: -0.96%
  • Consumer discretionary: -0.33%
  • Energy: -0.22%

12.49pm: Sectors trading in positive territory at lunchtime include:

  • Telecoms: +0.53%
  • Consumer staples: +0.46%
  • Financials: +0.33%
  • Industrials: +0.13%

12.47pm: China’s consumer prices rose 1.9 per cent in September from a year earlier while the producer-price index dropped 3.6 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics said today.

Gains in consumer prices have moderated from a three-year high of 6.5 per cent in July 2011 as food and fuel costs eased.

People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang said yesterday that while this year’s inflation rate is “fine” and may be 2.7 per cent for the full year, longer-term threats are from agricultural costs and prices for imported raw materials, commodities and energy, which can be driven up by global monetary easing.

12.38pm: Oil is down. A firmer US dollar and worries that a slowing global economy may further hurt fuel demand saw US crude futures fall by more than a dollar to below $91 per barrel.

US crude for November delivery eased 78 cents to $91.08 a barrel, recovering from a session low of $90.82. Brent crude was down 72 cents at $113.90.

12.30pm: The market seems to be caught in a bit of a struggle between the miners, which are mostly down and the big banks, which are all ahead.

  • BHP is 0.72% lower at $33.30
  • Rio is 1.03% lower at $55.82
  • Fortescue is 2.86% lower at $3.74
  • CBA is 0.07% higher to $56.89
  • ANZ is 0.70% higher to $25.84
  • NAB is 0.65% higher to $26.37
  • Westpac is 0.82% higher to $25.91

12.22pm: Fares for business-class seats on domestic flights are hovering near 20-year lows as Qantas and Virgin slug it it out in their battle for the most lucrative passengers.

The latest government figures reveal that fares for business seats this month are almost a third cheaper in real terms than in 2003 – the baseline for the aviation statistics.

The figures show that business fares this month – when adjusted for inflation – are about 40 per cent cheaper than in October last year, just prior to the period when Virgin began its all-out assault aimed at breaking Qantas’s stranglehold on the corporate travel market.

Virgin’s chief executive John Borghetti has described the discounting of fares for business travellers as the most aggressive it has been since ‘‘way before’’ the collapse of Ansett in 2001.

Read the full story here.

12.15pm: Sundance chairman George Jones  has been talking about the sale of the company to China's Hanlong Group - a  $1.4 billion deal that has been dragging on for a year

Hanlong, which cut its offer by a fifth in August, should have submitted a funding letter from China Development Bank by October 1, but the Golden Week holiday in China and failure to reach an agreement on conditions for the financing have delayed the process.

"We are working on it positively and we expect a positive outcome," Jones said.

12.09pm: Share in the Ten Network are down 1.5 cents, or 4.05 per cent, at 35.5 cents. Ten says negotiations for the sale of its outdoor advertising business Eye Corp are continuing, after reports the buyer has concerns about the business’s financial performance.

12.05pm: Stocks have been up and down like a tiny yoyo this morning, falling a little at first then up a little, down a bit on the home loans data, and now heading upwards. At noon the All Ordinaries index was 4 points lower, or 0.1 per cent, to 4506.1, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was 2.5 points lower, or 0.1 per cent, to 4484.1.

11.53am: More on this morning's home loans data. JPMorgan economist Ben Jarman said that despite the rise in August, the figures "don't show a great deal of turnaround".

It's an August number so it's capturing more of the RBA's work since the middle of the year. Also, house prices had slipped from the middle of 2010 to the middle of this year. Those two factors have combined to force marginal buyers in, once the interest rate got low enough. The question is: Is that sustainable? With the credit growth remaining low we don't see the fuel for that much housing market turnover. We think the lack of traction is going to be one of the reasons the RBA cuts further.

11.49am: China’s love affair with wine, and particularly Australian wine, continues to leap ahead, with Australian bottled wine exports to China delivering double digit growth in both value and volume, according to new research released by peak industry group Wine Australia.

Wine Australia’s quarterly Wine Export Approvals Report September 2012 showed bottled wine exports to China grew by 16.3 per cent in volume and 23.1 per cent in value, for the year ending September 2012.

11.48am: More on Origin. The company said today that its annual general meeting would be postponed. Origin said that ‘‘due to an error by the third party provider who maintains the company’s share register’’, a ‘‘significant number’’ of shareholders didn’t get sent proxy forms or notices about the meeting. The meeting - which was to have been next Wednesday, October 24 - will now be held on November 12.

11.42am: Sales of new motor vehicles has surged by the most in 14 months in September to reach an all-time high, a sign consumers have the confidence to splash out on big ticket items even while being cost-conscious on retail spending.

Government figures show new vehicle sales rose by a seasonally adjusted 4.7 per cent in September to 98,701, following an upwardly revised 4.3 per cent rise in August. Sales were up a hefty 14.4 per cent compared to September last year, Reuters reports.

Sales of SUVs extended their meteoric run with an increase of 4.2 per cent to a record peak of 27,818. Sales of passenger vehicles jumped 6.5 per cent, while sales of other vehicles, including trucks, increased by 1.1 per cent.

11.37am: Home loans rose more than expected in August, showing the impact of earlier rate cuts bolstering activity in the housing sector.

Home loans increased 1.8 per cent in August, following a 1 per cent fall in July, according the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economists polled by Bloomberg expected a rise of 1.5 per cent in the month, as the effects of earlier rate cuts filtered into the economy.

11.33am: Production has resumed at the Yolla gas project in the Bass Strait but part of its upgrade has been delayed, its operator Origin Energy says.

The Yolla gas field has been upgraded from an unmanned offshore platform to a manned platform, and delays had caused a longer than expected halt to production.

It had now returned to free-flow production mode after installation of an accomodation module, Origin said in a statement this morning.

Origin shares are down 4 cents, or 0.3 per cent, at $11.52.

11.22am: Asian shares have eased in early trade as growth concerns prevailed ahead of the third-quarter corporate earnings season.

Japan’s Nikkei share average eased in early trade this morning as investors remained downbeat about below par profit reports and disappointing US results on Friday hitting sentiment.

The Nikkei dropped 0.1 per cent to 8,529.15, while the broader Topix also lost 0.1 per cent to 717.70.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan has edged down 0.1 per cent, with  South Korean equities off 0.2 per cent.

11.14am: The Aussie dollar has been on a rollercoaster ride since since the end of last week. At the local close on Friday, the local unit was buying $US1.027, but it stumbled as markets in Europe and the US fell to end the week. It eventually hit $US1.0218 in the early hours of Saturday morning.

But in opening trade today, the Aussie clawed back most that late loss thanks to some solid trade data out of the China, reaching $US1.0255. But those gains have now evaporated too. It’s currently trading at $US1.0222.

“There could be a bit of volatility in the Aussie,” said Joseph Capurso, a currency strategist in Sydney at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

“You do have an RBA governor that’s quite dovish, but you’ve got Chinese economic data which should be quite good,” he said.

This time last week the Aussie touched $US1.0149, the lowest since July 13.

11.09am: New Zealand’s consumer price index has risen to 0.6 per cent in the three months ended September 30. The annual inflation rate rose to 1.1 per cent from one per cent.

Annual inflation is at the bottom of the NZ Reserve Bank’s one per cent-to-three per cent target but that’s likely to change by the final three months of 2012, with the bank predicting annual inflation to pick up to 1.9 per cent.

That’s because the drop in the CPI in the fourth quarter last year will have rolled off, while building costs are rising, partly reflecting the Christchurch rebuild.

‘‘The confluence of forces that have helped to keep price pressures down for the last year or so are fading and we are now past the low point for annual inflation,’’ Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Michael Gordon said.

11.02am: A great read from Saturday's Good Weekend magazine ... Trying to get experience and a foot in the door of "glamorous" industries, young interns are working long hours for nothing - but is this little more than a modern-day form of slavery?

10.59am: The big banks are mixed this morning:

  • CBA is 0.12% lower to $56.78
  • ANZ is 0.62 higher to $25.82
  • NAB is 0.65% higher to $26.37
  • Westpac is 0.58% higher to $25.85

10.56am: Looking more closely at the China trade numbers, Xiao Bo, economist at Huarong Securities in Beijing, said a trade recovery implied a slide in China's economic growth is likely to have been arrested, boding well for a recovery to take hold in the fourth quarter to brighten the jobs outlook - a key factor for Beijing as a November leadership transition for the ruling Communist Party looms.

"With the recovery in the export growth, we think Beijing will not cut RRR or interest rates further in the coming months as policymakers tend to keep policy stable when China heads towards a once-a-decade leadership change," Xiao said.

But the outlook for China's trade remains tough as the debt crisis festers in the European Union - the single biggest overseas market for Chinese goods - and a slower-than-expected recovery in the US economy weigh on exports.

10.54am: IG Markets analyst Cameron Peacock says the Australian market opened slightly higher than anticipated due to stronger than expected Chinese trade figures released on the weekend.
But he says it has not led to gains for the mining giants.

‘‘Surprisingly the materials are one of the weaker sectors.’’

‘‘I would have thought the materials would have got a bit of a boost from the Chinese numbers. The Chinese surplus was stronger than expected and Chinese exports were stronger than expected.’’

10.49am: Shares in Aquarius Platinum have lost 4 per cent on reports that its Zimbabwean joint venture has paid $125 million in royalties to the government this year.
Shares in Echo Entertainment are also lower following a report in the AFR that the company is seeking two non-executive directors to bolster the board as James Packer eyes the company’s prize asset, Sydney’s Star Casino. It’s shares have lost about half a per cent to $3.99.

10.48am: Here's how the big miners are faring so far this morning:

  • BHP is 0.18% lower
  • Rio is 0.20% higher
  • Fortescue is 1.56% lower

10.42am: Linc Energy is the strongest performer on the ASX200 so far, rising six and a half cents in early trade to 72 cents. The energy provider announced this morning that it had raised $US265million through a private offering in the US. Linc says will use the money to ‘‘fund capital expenditures, repay existing debt and for general corporate purposes’’. 

10.26am: Here’s how the various sub indices on the ASX200 are performing:

  • Consumer staples: +0.57%
  • Energy: +0.2%
  • Telecom: +0.16%
  • Health: +0.1
  • Materials: -0.47%
  • Consumer discretionary: -0.2%

10.28am: Early sliders on the ASX200 this morning include:

  • Alacer Gold: -5.54%
  • Mirabela Nickel: -4.88%
  • Resolute Mining: -3.93%
  • Saracen Mineral Holdings: -3.64%
  • Integra Mining: -3.31%

10.23am: Companies doing well this morning include:

  • Linc Energy: +7.63%
  • NRWHoldings: +2.47%
  • Bluescope Steel: +2.17%
  • Atlas Iron: +1.80%
  • Charter Hall: +1.78%

10.19am: In early trade, the All Ordinaries index is 1.3 points higher  to 4511.4, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 1.8 points higher to 4488.4.

10.12am: First bite - shares are down, and then up again in the first few minutes.

9.56am: Australian three-year bond futures prices are slightly higher, following a quiet weekend on world bond markets.

At 8.30 AEDT, the December three-year bond futures contract was at 97.640 (implying a yield of 2.360 per cent), up from 97.620 (2.380 per cent) at Friday’s close. The December 10-year bond futures were trading at 97.060 (2.940 per cent), unchanged from Friday.

Commonwealth Bank interest rate strategist Phillip Brown said Chinese trade data released over the weekend proved a positive sign for the country’s growth.

‘‘The data was positive in that it showed better export numbers. But it was just exports to other parts of Asia,’’ he said.

‘‘Intra-Asia exports had been quite weak, so it’s good to see those coming back. It wouldn’t have had a huge impact, but may have provided some confidence to the markets.’’

9.53am: Ten Network says negotiations for the sale of its outdoor advertising business Eye Corp are continuing, after reports the buyer has concerns about the business’s financial performance.

Ten announced in July that it had struck a deal with Outdoor Media Operations (OMO), which is owned by Champ Private Equity, for the sale of Eye Corp for up to $145 million.

The Australian Financial Review has reported that OMO had expressed concerns about the financial performance of Eye Corp, and the eventual sale price may be lower than originally forecast.

9.51am: Despite the soft lead set by the futures market, Arab Bank Australia treasury dealer David Scutt predicts markets will open firmer this morning, following the stronger-than-expected Chinese trade data release over the weekend.

"I think that's going to largely offset the losses in Europe on Friday in particular," said Mr Scutt.

"It will calm fears of an aggressive slowdown in China and that should help the local stockmarket and currency," he said. Nonetheless, Mr Scutt did not predict a significant rise in shares.

"People will still be cautious," he said. "If there is a gain it will be modest in nature.

9.48am: Some analyst rating changes from Friday:

  • OZ Minerals raised to 'buy' at Nomura
  • Billabong cut to 'reduce' at Nomura
  • Hutchison Telecom 'cut' to underperform at Macquarie
  • Brambles cut to 'neutral' at Macquarie

9.45am: Fresh data also showed iron ore imports by China, the world's biggest buyer of the commodity, climbed to a 20-month high on speculation steel demand may increase. Imports totalled 65.01 million tonnes in September, China's customs bureau said. The shipments, the highest since January 2011, rose 4.1 per cent from August and 7.3 per cent from the 60.57 million tonnes a year earlier.

9.42am: While the China data may support stocks today, the rest of the week could be about the US earnings season. US stock market participants are shifting their focus back to corporate outlooks, and the picture is not pretty.

Early earnings reports have underlined those concerns, which may be exacerbated when dozens of major companies - including Dow components General Electric, Microsoft Corp and International Business Machines Corp - report this week.

Here's the full Wall Street week ahead.

9.38am: More on the China's export data. Sales abroad increased 9.9 per cent in September from a year earlier, China's customs administration said today in Beijing. That compares with a 2.7 per cent gain in August and a 5.5 per cent median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 35 economists. Imports gained 2.4 per cent, leaving a $US27.67 billion trade surplus.

Today's data may reduce pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to step up policy easing ahead of a transfer of power to a new generation of leaders that starts next month.

9.34am: Local stocks are set for a weak start but could get support after China on Saturday reported a rebound in exports during September. The news has led to a strong early performance from the dollar.

China reported that exports rose 9.9 per cent in September year-on-year to a record monthly high, but analysts warned the performance was unsustainable in the weak global outlook. That has led to a recovery in the Aussie dollar which fell late on Friday as European and US stocks closed the week out with losses, and could see local shares buck the weak leads set on offshore trade.

For a comprehensive look at this morning’s business news, check today’s need2know. Here are this morning’s key market links:

9.32am: Good morning folks. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Monday.

This blog is not intended as investment advice

Contributors: Thomas Hunter, Peter Litras, Jens Meyer

BusinessDay with agencies