The Australian stock market is trading marginally lower on Tuesday, extending Monday's losses, following another strong triple-digit loss on Wall Street overnight. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is losing 8 points or 0.23% to 3,596, after closing nearly 1.85% lower on Monday. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 10 points or 0.30% to 3,544.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weaker. The Aussie opened at US$0.6795-0.6799, down from Monday's close of US$0.6816-0.6822.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks closed Monday's trading session sharply lower for a second straight session, as investors responded to disappointing news regarding the auto industry as well as renewed concerns about the outlook for the financial sector. The U.S. government stated that bankruptcy might be the best solution for troubled automakers in the country, including General Motors, who's CEO Rick Wagoner has been forced to resign. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that some banks could need additional assistance. The Dow closed down 254 points or 3.27% at 7,522, the Nasdaq lost 43 points or 2.81% to 1,502, and the S&P 500 fell 28 points or 3.48% to finish at 788.
On the economic front, Reserve Bank of Australia's financial aggregates data for February showed that credit issued to the private sector in Australia was up 5.4% on year in February, while credit issued was steady with a 0.5% gain on month.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 0.49%, while ANZ Banking Group is edging down 0.06%, and National Australia Bank is falling 1.83%. Westpac is slipping 0.57%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is dropping 2.36%.
Australian investment bank Macquarie Group plans to cut cash bonuses of over 300 top executives as the group heads towards its first drop in annual profit in 17 years.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 1.20%, and Rio Tinto is falling 0.79%. Gold miners were stronger, despite gold closing lower for a second straight session on Monday. Lihir Gold is adding 0.62%, Sino Gold is surging 4.47%, and Newcrest Mining is gaining 2.45%.
On Monday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed sharply lower, breaking the key technical support level of $50 a barrel, as worries over the U.S. auto and banking industries has fueled demand concerns again. A stronger dollar also lessened the hedge appeal of commodities. Traders are also looking forward to Wednesday's Department of Energy inventory report.
Oil closed down $3.97 at $48.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, after hitting an intraday low of $48.11 and a high of $52.25. In the Asian session Tuesday, crude is currently up $0.32 at $48.73 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is falling 1.86%, and Oil Search is losing 1.82%, while Santos is rising 2.45%, after the oil and gas producer submitted a draft environmental impact statement for the A$7.7 billion liquefied natural gas project near Gladstone in Queensland in a joint venture with Malaysia's state-owned Petronas.
In the retail sector, David Jones is dropping 5.94%, while Coles' owner Wesfarmers is adding 0.60%, and Woolworths is edging up 0.08%.
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