The Australian stock market is trading lower on Wednesday, extending the previous sessions losses, following a triple-digit loss on Wall Street overnight. In the local market, financial stocks led the losers. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is losing 51 points or 1.37% to 3,656, after closing 1.34% lower on Tuesday. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 48 points or 1.31% to 3,601.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weaker. The Aussie opened at US$0.7107-0.7112, down from Tuesday's close of US$0.7156-0.7160.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks closed Tuesday's trading session lower, extending the previous sessions losses, as traders expressed some anxiety about the upcoming earning season and stocks' ability to sustain the recent upward move in light of expectations of weak quarterly results. Alcoa reported its first quarter results Tuesday after the bell, signaling the unofficial start of the earnings reporting season. The Dow closed down 186 points or 2.34% at 7,790, the Nasdaq lost 45 points or 2.81% to 1,562, and the S&P 500 fell 20 points or 2.39% to finish at 816.
On the economic front, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute's survey of consumer sentiment for April showed that Australian consumer confidence surged 8.3% to 92.7 points in April.
Further, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release housing finance data for February.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down 2.34%, ANZ Banking Group is losing 2.88%, and National Australia Bank is falling 3.17%. Westpac is slipping 0.99%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is dropping 4.98%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 1.38%, and Rio Tinto is edging down 0.45%. Gold miners were stronger, after gold closed higher on Tuesday. Lihir Gold is adding 1.70%, Sino Gold is rising 1.36%, and Newcrest Mining is gaining 2.02%.
On Tuesday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed lower for a third straight session, breaking the key technical support level of $50 a barrel, amid demand concerns on signs of a deepening global economic downturn. Traders also await the weekly inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration or EIA, which is released every Wednesday.
Oil closed down $1.90 at $49.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, after hitting an intraday low of $48.40 and a high of $51.82. In the Asian session Wednesday, crude is currently down $0.98 at $48.17 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is falling 1.77%, Oil Search is edging down 0.19%, and Santos is losing 0.53%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is dropping 2.40%, Coles' owner Wesfarmers is falling 2.03%, and Woolworths is edging down 0.66%.
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