RTTNews - The Australian stock market opened weak on Monday and drifted down in the red with participants resorting to some heavy selling in energy, materials and financials stocks. Industrials and consumer staples are also trading sharply lower. Information technology issues are trading modestly down.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200 which opened at 3,765, is currently trading at 3,726, down 47 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 45 points at 3,713.90.

In the materials space, Rio Tinto is trading 2.4% down and BHP Billiton is down by 1.4%. Capital goods issue Leighton Holdings is trading lower by 1.2%.

In the banking sector, ANZ Bank is down by 1.6%, Westpac Banking Corporation is trading lower by over 3% while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Bank are trading lower by 0.75% and 0.5% respectively. Diversified financials stock Macquarie Group is down by 2.2%.

Energy stocks Worleyparsons and Woodside Petroleum are down by 3.2% and 1.4% respectively.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower today as weak equities and worse than expected economic data in Europe stifled demand for high-yielding currencies. Currently, it is trading at 0.7463 to the U.S. dollar.

The Australian market ended sharply higher on Friday with energy and materials stocks rallying sharply on strong global cues. The S&P/ASX 200 index had moved up by 49.8 points or 1.34%, while the All Ordinaries index ended 48.1 points or 1.3% up.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand is trading modestly lower. The Japanese market is down sharply with the Nikkei 225 average losing nearly 2.5%. In Korea, the KOSPI is currently down by 1.2%.

Most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region ended on a buoyant note Friday as investors rushed in to pick up stocks on strong Wall Street cues.

The trend in major European markets was mixed. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index closed up 0.4 percent.

Giving up early gains, Wall Street ended on a weak note Friday as investors pressed sales on concerns over a possible drop in energy demand. None too impressive economic data and auto major General Motors' plan to significantly reduce its dealers network also contributed to the weak close.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory after ending the previous session notably higher. The Dow closed down 62.68 points or 0.8 percent at 8,268.64, the Nasdaq closed down 9.07 points or 0.5 percent at 1,680.14 and the S&P 500 closed down 10.19 points or 1.1 percent at 882.88.

The economic calendar is relatively light this week, but traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on housing starts, leading economic indicators, and Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity. The Federal Reserve is also due to release the minutes of its latest meeting.

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