RTTNews - The Australian market ended the first day of the week on a weaker note, dragged down by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. The lingering uncertainty about the fate of a few Rio Tinto executives arrested by the Chinese authorities and its impact on relations with China, and concerns about a global recovery impacted market sentiment.

In the U.S., stocks ended mixed in a choppy session in yet another day of low volumes amid weak economic data that further dented the already weak outlook. A report released by Reuters and the University of Michigan showed that consumer sentiment index for July came in at 64.6 compared with the final reading of 70.8 for June. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to a reading of about 70.0. A report released by the Commerce Department showing a narrower than expected trade deficit for May and a separate report from the Labor Department that revealed a jump in import prices in June had little or no impact on the market.

Disappointing preliminary numbers from Chevron and a decline in oil prices below the $60 a barrel mark amid the strengthening of the dollar against the Euro and the Pound also impacted market sentiment. Housing and healthcare stocks showed weakness, while moderate gains were seen among airline, rail-road transportation and few technology stocks.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to finish higher by 3.48 points or 0.2% at 1,756, while the Dow fell by 36.65 points or 0.5% to 8,147 and the S&P 500 dipped by 3.55 points or 0.4% to 879.

The All Ordinaries Index opened slightly lower at 3,787 compared to its previous close of 3,791 and drifted further down. The index stayed in negative territory throughout the session and ended with a loss of 1.39% or 52.60 points at 3,738. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended at 3,738, representing a loss of 56.60 points, or 1.49%.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery continued its southward march and ended at at $59.02, down $0.87 a barrel in Asian trading session, after ending the previous session with a loss 38 cents at $59.89 a barrel.

Rio Tinto dragged the index down with a loss of 3.58% on concerns about the diplomatic tussle between Australia and China in connection with the arrest of its executives on charges of espionage. BHP Billiton lost 1.38%. Among other metal stocks, Oz Minerals declined 2.86%, Gindalbe Metals shed 2.07% and Mincor Resources fell 3.51%. However, Fortescue Metals gained 2.65% following comments that the present uncertainty between China and Australia related to Rio Tinto would not affect its relationship with its customers in China.

Gold stocks slipped into the red on lower bullion prices. Lihir Gold lost 1.74%, Newcrest Mining fell 1.19% and Sino Gold declined 2.88%.

Oil stocks ended weaker on falling crude oil prices. Santos fell 2.11%, Oil Search lost 1.35% and Woodside Petroleum declined 1.75%.

Financial stocks declined on concerns about a delay in global recovery. ANZ Bank declined 1.75% Commonwealth Bank Australia fell 1.95%, National Australia Bank lost 1.97% and Westpac Banking shed 1.25%.

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