RTTNews - Amid renewed concerns over the state of the U.S. economy on the face of rising cost of debt in that country and geo political worries following North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, the Australian stock market opened on a weak note on Thursday and drifted down further in subsequent trading.

Stocks across various sectors are trading weak and those from energy, materials and healthcare sectors are among the most prominent losers. Financials are also trading mostly lower.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200, which dropped down to 3,750 this morning, is currently trading at 3759.50, down 41.60 points from its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is down 38.50 points at 3,756.80.

The S&P/ASX200 index had ended up 12.70 points at 3,801.10 on Wednesday while the broader All Ordinaries index moved up 13.70 points to 3795.30.

Among materials stocks, BHP Billiton is trading 2.25% down, Orica is down by 2% and Rio Tinto is lower by nearly a per cent. Energy stocks Santos and Woodside Petroleum are trading weak.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank is down by nearly 3%, National Bank of Australia is trading lower by 1.2% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down with a modest loss.

Leighton Holdings has announced that Leighton Contractors has signed an agreement with EnergyAustralia to create the Energy2U Alliance to support the delivery of the proposed A$8 billion electricity network upgrade and renewal program for the Sydney, Hunter Valley and Central Coast regions between 2009 and 2014. The Leighton Holdings stock is currently trading 2.7% down from its previous close.

Data on private capital expenditure, construction work done and new home sales for April are expected to give some direction to the market today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7792 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, New Zealand and Korea are trading weak. Most of the markets in the region had finished notably higher on Wednesday on strong cues from Wall Street. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 5.3 percent.

On Wednesday, Wall Street saw some heavy selling as investors chose to take profits amid a mixed report from the housing market and the Treasury Department's auction of $35 billion worth of 5-year notes that attracted moderately strong demand.

The report from the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales rose 2.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised rate of 4.55 million units in March. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.66 million unit rate from the 4.57 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

While the pace of existing home sales increased compared to the previous month, total housing inventories at the end of April represented a 10.2-month supply compared with a 9.6-month supply in March.

The major averages all closed firmly in the red, just off their worst levels of the day. The Dow closed down 173.47 points or 2.1 percent at 8,300.02, the Nasdaq closed down 19.35 points or 1.1 percent at 1,731.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.27 points or 1.9 percent at 893.06.

Major European markets posted more modest gains, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index finishing up by 0.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX closed up 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil rallied to a fresh multi-month high on Wednesday amid hopes energy demand will continue to improve. Traders await the results of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting as well as Department of Energy inventory data tomorrow.

Light sweet crude oil for July delivery rose to its highest close since November 5, rallying to $63.45, up $1 on the session.

Data on weekly job claims, new home sales and the outcome of the OPEC meet will give direction to the U.S. market on Thursday.

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