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Australian Market Drifts Lower On Wall Street Lead

The Australian market is trading weak on Tuesday with investors pressing sales at several counters, tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks posted notable losses overnight following a disappointing jobs report released on Friday.

Energy, mining, financial, information technology and consumer discretionary stocks are mostly trading weak. Healthcare and industrial stocks are also drifting lower on selling pressure.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,274.5 in early trades, is currently down 35.8 points or 0.8 percent at 4,284. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 35.3 points or 0.8 percent at 4,367, around 10 points off an early low of 4,357.3.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.5 to 1 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 1.3 percent, while Bank of Queensland is up marginally.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are trading lower by 0.4 to 1 percent.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 2.2 percent, Oil Search is trading 2 percent lower, Santos is down with a loss of 1.8 percent, Origin Energy is losing about 0.8 percent and Caltex Australia is down 1.4 percent.

Aquarius Platinum is down by over 4 percent. Lynas Corp., Challenger, Bluescope Steel and Lend Lease are all trading lower by 2.5 to 3 percent.

Sims Metal Management, Resmed Inc., WorleyParsons, News Corp. and Fairfax Media are down 2 to 2.5 percent. CSL, Alumina, Iluka Resources, Boral and Computershare are also trading notably lower.

Meanwhile, Whitehaven Coal, Spark Infrastructure Group and Downer EDI are trading firm, gaining 2.3 to 3.5 percent.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. shares are down 1.5 percent after it announced that Leightons Asia has won a contract worth A$420 million to provide mining services to PT Marunda Grahamineral's coal mining project in Borneo. The project, located in the Laung Tuhup of Central Kalimantan's Murung Raya Regency, involves the annual extraction of more than two million tonnes of thermal and coking coal.

Energy Resources of Australia shares are up 2 percent after the company revised its production forecast. The company said it expects its uranium oxide production to be between 3,200 and 3,700 tonnes in 2012.

On the economic front, activity in Australia's construction sector picked up slightly in March but remained in sharp contraction, according to survey results published Tuesday by the Australian Industry Group. AIG's Performance of Construction index for March was 36.2, an increase of 0.6 points from February.

The AIG report said new orders in the sector declined for a 22nd straight month. "Large parts of the national construction industry remained stuck in the doldrums," said AIG Public Policy Director Peter Burn. "Very weak conditions continue in the house and apartment building and commercial construction sectors."

On Wall Street, stocks ended notably lower on Monday with traders reacting negatively to Friday's monthly jobs report.

Despite climbing off their worst levels of the day, the major averages ended the session firmly in the red. The Dow ended down 130.5 points or 1 percent at 12,929.6, the Nasdaq dropped 33.4 points or 1.1 percent to 3,047.1 and the S&P 500 slid 15.9 points or 1.1 percent to 1,382.2.

U.S. crude oil futures closed at a seven-week low on Monday, on demand concerns following some soft U.S. jobs data last week and a disappointing consumer price inflation report from China for March. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, dropped $0.85 or 0.8 percent to close at $102.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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