Local stocks are set to open flat as fresh reasons to push share prices higher are awaited.

What you need2know:

• SPI futures up 7 points to 5498 on Monday

• AUD at 93.67 US cents, 95.15 Japanese yen, 68.41 Euro cents and 55.72 British pence at about 6am AEST on Monday

• On Wall St, S&P500 +0.4%, Dow Jones +0.3%, Nasdaq +0.5% 

• In Europe, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3%, FTSE100 +0.2%, CAC +0.3%, DAX -0.3%

• Iron ore tumbled 2% to $US100.70 per metric tonne

• Spot gold slipped 0.2% to $US1293.52 an ounce on Friday in New York

• LME copper fell 0.4% to $US6860 a tonne on Friday in London

• Brent oil gained 0.7% to $US109.75 per barrel in New York on Friday

What’s on today

Leighton Holdings and Beadell Resources will hold annual general meetings, Elders and DuluxGroup will release first-half results, Coffey International will post its third quarter results while Caltex Australia will hold a roadshow.

Stocks to watch

Deutsche has maintained its ‘buy’ rating on GrainCorp and share valuation of $9.40 apiece to reflect stronger competition.

JPMorgan has kept its ‘overweight’ recommendation on SP AusNet and price target of $1.40 after the Victorian electricity distributor reported its full-year earnings.

Hartleys has revised lower its estimates for Swick Mining Services after the company cuts its fiscal 2014 earnings forecast.

Currencies

The US dollar held a slim gain against a basket of major currencies on Friday as benchmark US Treasury yields edged up from their lowest levels in six months, although the greenback faces further weakness if yields resume their decline.

A key focus for US dollar and US bond investors this week will be the release on Wednesday of the Federal Reserve's meeting minutes from April.

Analysts see the economy growing at an annual rate of 3.3 per cent in the current quarter, up from a previous estimate of 3.0 per cent, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's quarterly survey of 42 forecasters, released on Friday.

Commodities

Brent crude oil rose on Friday to end nearly 2 per cent higher on the week, boosted by concerns over output in Libya, where recently opened fields were closed again and clashes erupted in the east. The US benchmark spent the entire week above the 50-day moving average of $US100.99 but found resistance at $US102.65, trading in a new range that is closely linked to gasoline prices, analysts said.

Platinum was up almost 3 per cent for the week, boosted by supply worries due to prolonged strikes in top producer South Africa, and palladium notched a weekly increase of 2 per cent, also the best performance in six weeks.

Rio Tinto is not actively seeking to divest assets this year but would consider any attractive offers, chief executive Sam Walsh said on Friday. Rio, the world’s third-largest miner, has been divesting assets that it no longer considers core.

United States

US stocks ended higher on Friday in a late-day rebound as small-cap names edged up after recent weakness and consumer discretionary shares advanced. The Russell 2000 gained 0.6 per cent, recovering after once again approaching correction territory, defined as a 10 per cent drop from a recent high, earlier in the session.

At the end of 2013, the difference between the forward price-to-earnings ratio on the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500 was near its highest going back to at least 1978, according to data from Citi. The Russell's forward P/E ratio was 24 then and the S&P 500's was 15.7. Now the Russell's forward P/E ratio is 21.5 and the S&P 500's is 15.3. That's still a substantial difference.

Shares of Verizon Communications climbed 2.3 per cent to $US49.07 a day after a regulatory filing showed Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought 11 million shares of Verizon in the first quarter.

Europe

Corporate takeover activity propped up European equities on Friday, allowing key indexes to recover after a sell-off in the previous session caused by weak economic data in Portugal and Italy.

Takeover activity has supported European equities this year, and shares in French telecom firms such as Iliad and those of conglomerate Bouygues - which owns Bouygues Telecom - rose on Friday on new signs of deals in the sector.

Andreas Clenow, hedge fund trader and principal at ACIES Asset Management, said he believed that the broader, upwards trajectory for European stock markets - which has seen the FTSEurofirst rise 3.4 since the start of 2014 - was intact.

What happened on Friday

Local shares crept higher last week as some well-received company news from heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra and BHP Billiton helped buoy the bourse, offsetting falls in the mining sector and profit-taking amid bank ­dividend season.

On Friday, the S&P/ASX 200 slid 31.8 points, or 0.58pc, to 5479.