The stock market in Australia closed lower on Wednesday, led by mining, energy and banking stocks. Weak closing on Wall Street for the second consecutive day, drop in crude oil prices, and disappointing first quarter results from Alcoa weighed on the markets.
On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 186.29 points or 2.3% at 7,790, while the Nasdaq closed down 45.10 points or 2.8% at 1,562 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.93 points or 2.4% at 816.
Alcoa, which kickstarted the earnings season in the U.S., released first quarter results after the markets closed, reporting a net loss that was worse than analysts' expectations, with the company attributing the loss to the weakness in its core industrial and commercial markets as well as the historic decline in aluminum prices.
In Asian trading, crude oil ended lower by $1.15 at $48.00 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $1.90 at $49.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday amid demand concerns on signs of a deepening global economic downturn. Traders now look forward to the weekly inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration or EIA, due out later in the day.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index declined 86.8 points or 2.34% at 3619, and the broader All Ordinaries Index lost 81 points, or 2.22% at 3,567.
On the economic front, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute's survey of consumer sentiment for April showed that Australian consumer confidence surged up 8.3% to 92.7 points in April.
Mining stocks declined following weaker quarterly results from Alcoa. BHP Billiton fell 2.81%, Alumina Ltd lost 6.35% and Rio Tinto edged down 0.70%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside declined 3.39%, Oil Search lost 1.88%, and Santos fell 2.71%.
Financial stocks ended lower. Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined 3.99%, ANZ Banking Group lost 4.12%, and National Australia Bank fell 4.42%. Westpac slipped 1.43%, and investment bank Macquarie Group ended lower by 5.90%.
On the other hand, Gold-related stocks advanced on higher gold prices. Lihir Gold advanced 2.72%, Newcrest Mining gained 1.25%, and Sino Gold edged up 1.36%.
In the retail sector, David Jones fell 2.05%, Coles' owner Wesfarmers lost 2.03%, and Woolworths slipped 0.66%.
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