Local shares, bolstered by gains in global equities, are set to open higher with investors focused on more corporate earnings and the RBA's latest meeting minutes.

What you need2know:

• SPI futures up 25 pts at 5554

• AUD at 93.22 US cents, 95.62 Japanese yen, 69.77 Euro cents and 55.74 British pence.

• On Wall St, S&P 500 +0.9%, Dow +1.1%, Nasdaq +1%

• In Europe, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.3%, FTSE +0.8%, CAC +1.4%, DAX +1.7%

• Spot gold down 0.5% to $US1298.59 an ounce

• Brent oil falls 1.8% to $US101.70 per barrel

• Iron ore slips 0.1% to $US93.30 per metric tonne.

What’s on today

Australia: Results from: BHP Billiton, QBE Insurance, IAG, Oil Search, Sonic Healthcare, Amcor, GWA Group, Toll Holdings;

On the economic/policy front: Reserve Bank of Australia August 5 meeting board minutes, ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating, July imports of goods;

Overseas: EU June current account, UK July CPI, UK July retail price index, US July building permits, US July housing starts, US July CPI.

Stocks to watch

Results today from: BHP Billiton, QBE Insurance, IAG, Oil Search, Sonic Healthcare, Amcor, GWA Group, Toll Holdings.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia is seizing on desperation among investors for income to raise $2 billion of hybrid capital at a historically low interest rate of around 5.45 per cent.

QBE's John Neal has waited two years and endured plenty of tough moments – but will finally take his chance on Tuesday with an institutional placement. 

CIMB has an “add” recommendation on Asciano and a $6.32 target price. In a note, the broker said: “Despite challenging operating conditions in a number of its business, we expect solid earnings growth after another year of good cost-out performance. We think AIO is a key stock to own in the Australian transport sector."

Currencies

The US dollar rose against a basket of major currencies after the threat of increased tensions in Ukraine appeared to diminish and positive US housing data supported the greenback.

In a relatively light week for economic data, investors will closely monitor the August 21-23 annual meeting of top central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for possible insight about the path for monetary policy.

In a commentary, JPMorgan economist Stephen Walters wrote that: “the euro area is the most important source of downside risk at present."

The British pound was last up 0.2 per cent against the US dollar at $US1.6728 following comments from Bank of England governor Mark Carney that he would not have to wait for real wages to turn positive before raising interest rates. "It was a much bigger comment than the underlying price movement showed," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago. He said the pound would likely continue to rally.

Commodities

ANZ strategist Daniel Hynes in Sydney viewed copper as oversold and said that prices got to “relatively attractive levels”. “In our view, fundamentals are improving, which opens up the scenario of upside surprise...,” he added.

Brent crude oil shed nearly $US2 a barrel to reach its lowest price in over a year as investor concerns over conflict in Ukraine and Iraq eased, and as higher Libyan oil output added to already ample supplies.

Environmentalist Marina Silva could defeat President Dilma Rousseff if Brazil’s October election goes to a second-round run-off, according to a new poll that saw the challenger entering the race in second place.

Cocoa futures in New York and London touched their highest levels in more than three years on a mix of speculator and trade buying, despite signs of available supply and an expected surplusUnited States

US

US stocks rallied on Monday, with the Nasdaq closing at a 14-year high as increasing homebuilder confidence and hopes for receding tensions in Russia emboldened investors in the equity market.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index showed homebuilder sentiment rose to 55 in August, its highest level since January, from 53 in July.

Discount retailer Dollar General offered to buy Family Dollar Stores for $US8.95 billion, trumping an offer by Dollar Tree.

Europe

European shares rallied on Monday as the market was encouraged by diplomatic efforts at the weekend to try and ease tension in Ukraine. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday a “certain progress” was achieved during talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin.

German blue-chips - considered the most vulnerable to the tensions between the West and Russia - were among the top gainers on Monday. Continental AG, BASF and Siemens were up between 1.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent.

Continental European companies shrugged off a weakening economy to pay record dividends</a> to investors globally in the three months to the end of June.

What happened yesterday

Shares lifted for the third day in a row on Monday as investors mulled a swag of company results. Despite a disappointing trading update from National Australia Bank – and impairment charges hitting the profits of Ansell, Newcrest Mining and Aurizon Holdings – strategists said they are positive about how August ­reporting season is shaping up.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries Index each gained 0.4 per cent, on Monday to 5587.1 points and 5580.6 points ­respectively.