The stock market in Australia declined on Monday, led by resource and financial stocks tracking the move on Wall Street, which declined on Friday on profit taking by investors after recent rally. Resource stocks declined after commodity prices fell in the international markets. Financial stocks also slipped after U.S. Treasury Secretary stated that big banks might need much more assistance than anticipated. The already weaker economic fundamentals and anticipation of further strain on the global economy are dampening the glimmer of hope generated by the U.S. initiatives for reviving the economy.

On Friday, the Dow closed down 148.38 points or 1.9% at 7,776, the Nasdaq closed down 41.80 points or 2.6% percent at 1,545 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.92 points or 2% at 816.

In Asian trading, crude oil declined 2.31% or $1.17 a barrel to $51.21 a barrel. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $52.34 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, down $1.96 a barrel.

The markets, having opened unchanged from their previous closes, continued to decline in the morning session. After moving sidewards briefly in the mid-session, the stocks continued its southward movement and closed slightly above the day's low.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index declined 1.85% or 67.9 points to close at 3,604 and the broader All Ordinaries index lost 61.40 points or 1.70% to close at 3,554.

On the economic front, the Housing Industry Association Economics Group's latest survey shows that total new-home sales in the month of February increased 3.9% on month.

Resource stocks declined after the commodity prices declined about 1% on the London Metals Exchange on Friday. Crude oil prices also declined to less than US$52 a barrel.

Index leader, BHP Billiton declined 4.53%, and scrap metal recycler SIMS Metal Management fell 7.60%. However, Rio Tinto edged up 0.07%.

Oil stocks declined following a sharp drop in crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum lost 4.63%, Santos fell 4.12% and Oil Search dropped 2.12%.

Gold related stocks ended mixed following a drop in bullion prices in the international market. Newcrest Mining lost 4.14% and Sino Gold fell 3.13%. Lihir Gold, however, remained unchanged from previous close.

Financial stocks declined, partly due to profit taking after recent rally, and partly on concerns about the stability of the global financial sector. Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 1.43%, ANZ Banking Group lost 4.59%, National Australia Bank declined 1.90% and investment bank Macquarie Group moved downwards by 2.13%. On the other hand, Westpac gained 0.31%.

Retail stocks ended mixed. David Jones advanced 1.68%, while Woolworths lost 1.14%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers declined 2.08%.

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