RTTNews - The Australian stock market drifted lower on Tuesday, with investors going in for some profits after Wall Street snapped a four-session winning streak and ended flat overnight.

Energy, materials, consumer staples and healthcare stocks are seeing a sell-off. Utilities and industrials are also trading weak. Financial and technology stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index , which fell to 4,389.9, is currently down by 23 points, or 0.5%, at 4,403.3. The broader All Ordinaries index is down by around 22 points or 0.5% at 4,412.

On Monday, the S&P/ASX 200 index had ended up by 135 points or 3.16% at 4,426, while the All Ordinaries index advanced by 128 points or 2.98% to 4,432.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading weak, while National Australia Bank is up with a modest gain.

In the materials space, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are down with modest losses. Bluescope Steel, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are also trading in the red with modest losses. Orica is down by 2.8% while Incitec Pivot and Lihir Gold are trading modestly higher.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos are exhibiting weakness.

Oil Search Ltd announced that its first half profits have fallen 73.3% due to weaker prices and lower sales. The Papua New Guinea-based company revealed that its first-half net profit for the six months to June 30 was A$42.51 million, compared to A$159.16 million in the corresponding period of 2008. Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said revenue had fallen to A$221.01 million from an all-time high of A$557.25 million in first half of 2008. Despite weak results, the stock is trading up by over 1%.

APA Group's net profit for the year ended June 30 rose 17.2% to A$78.77 million from the previous year. Underlying operating net profit rose 34% to A$110.13 million, after excluding significant items totaling A$21.01 million. Revenue for the year before one-offs was A$944.42 million, up 7.1%. The stock is currently trading with a modest gain of 0.8%.

Gaming machine producer Aristocrat Leisure Ltd reported a A$33.37 million loss for the first half and announced a major transformation program to stabilize earnings and focus on key markets. Revenue for the half year was 5.3% lower at A$441.68 million, and earnings before interest and tax fell 112.7% to a loss of A$13.00 million. The stock is trading lower by 0.4%.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened on a firm note today, helped by strong equity markets. In early trading this morning, the Aussie was quoting at US$0.8387/92, up from Monday's close of US$0.8368/71. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8359 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Singapore and Korea are trading weak, while New Zealand is trading modestly higher. Stock markets across the region had closed notably higher on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks drifted lower after some early strength as market sentiment was slightly hit by comments from noted economist Nouriel Roubini about a possible double recession. Moving in a choppy manner in late session, the Dow ended the day with a small gain of 3.32 points at 9,509.28. The Nasdaq drifted down by 2.92 points to 2,017.98 and the S&P 500 ended 0.56 points down at 1,025.57.

Major European markets saw strong gains on Monday with the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both rising by 0.8%, while the French CAC 40 index gained 1%.

Crude oil edged higher on Monday amid hopes a global economic recovery will boost energy demand. Oil hit a 10-month intraday high before easing. Light sweet crude for October closed at US$74.37 per barrel, up 48 cents on the session.

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