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Libya, Japan weighs heavy on share market

Posted by on March 21, 2011 0 Comment

The share market opened flat today despite a positive lead from US markets on Friday.

At 10.17am (AEDT), the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.8 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 4625.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index nudged up 3.5 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 4719.3 points.

On the ASX24 at 10.18am, the June share price index futures contract was eight points lower at 4639 points, with 12,191 contracts traded.

IG Markets institutional dealer Chris Weston said the market had opened “pretty flat” today.

“Whilst the US had a good night (on Friday) it seems that we (the Australian bourse) are very much leading markets at the moment,” he said.

“If you look at US futures from the close at four o’clock in Australia, they’re actually down.”

Mr Weston said investors appeared to be feeling more settled about the nuclear emergency in Japan, but the fighting in Libya was still volatile and driving up oil prices this morning.

“I think that seems to be the sector of focus at the moment, the energy space,” he said.

In the energy sector, oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was up 57c at $44.98, and Santos was 26c higher at $15.31.

Global miner BHP Billiton was steady at $44.56, and Rio Tinto was 76c richer at $81.26.

Among the major banks, National Australia Bank was 12c weaker at $24.36, Westpac eased 6c to $22.57, ANZ gained 8c at $22.78, and Commonwealth Bank hovered at $50.32.

Among other shares at 10.33am, Fairfax dipped 0.5c to $1.24 as Brett Clegg returned to the diversified publishing house to lead its Financial Review Group.

On Wall Street on Friday, markets closed higher following similar rises in Europe and Asia, despite the nuclear emergency in Japan and more tensions on the oil-rich Arabian peninsula.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 83.93 points, or 0.71 per cent, to 11,858.52 points, while the broader S&P 500 index rose 5.48 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 1279.2 points.

The tech-driven Nasdaq Composite rose 7.62 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 2643.67 points. Agencies

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