The Australian stock market is trading lower on Monday, snapping a five-day gaining streak, following a triple-digit loss on Wall Street Friday. In the local market, resource stocks were hit by weaker commodity prices. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is losing 47 points or 1.27% to 3,626, after closing more than half a percent higher on Friday. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 42 points or 1.16% to 3,574.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weaker. The Aussie opened at US$0.6909-0.6917, down from Friday's close of US$0.6994-0.6998.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks ended Friday's trading session lower, after traders engaged in profit taking following the strong gains seen in recent sessions as well as on some mixed economic news. Fresh worries about the health of the financial sector also saw stocks decline. The Dow closed down 148 points or 1.87% at 7,776, the Nasdaq lost 42 points or 2.63% to 1,545, and the S&P 500 fell 17 points or 2.03% to finish at 816.
On the economic front, the Housing Industry Association Economics Group's latest survey shows that total new-home sales in the month of February increased 3.9% on month.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down 1.34%, ANZ Banking Group is losing 1.93%, and National Australia Bank is dropping 2.13%. Westpac is adding 0.57%, while investment bank Macquarie Group is falling 1.41%.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia said its wholly owned bank subsidiary Bankwest will cut 400 jobs from its workforce due to the economic downturn.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 3.23%, while Rio Tinto is gaining 1.67%. Gold miners were mixed, after gold closed lower on Friday. Lihir Gold is losing 1.55%, and Newcrest Mining is dropping 3.40%, while Sino Gold is edging up 0.38%.
On Friday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed lower, amid renewed concerns over rising stockpiles. Oil closed down $1.96 at $52.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, after hitting an intraday low of $51.64 and a high of $54.28. In the Asian session Tuesday, crude is currently down $0.92 at $51.46 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Oil Search is losing 2.33%, Woodside is falling 2.76% and Santos is dropping 3.26%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is unchanged, while Woolworths is losing 0.78%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers is falling 1.81%.
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