Aust shares open weaker as resources fall

The Australian market is weaker as falling commodity prices hit key resources stocks and the US Federal Reserve hints at a possible policy change.

At 1022 AEDT on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 30.9 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,067.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 32.1 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 5,082.3 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 25 points at 5,048 points, with 10,535 contracts traded.

A computer glitch at the Australian Securities Exchange delayed the reporting of key market indices at the start of trade on Thursday, but the problem was resolved by 1030 AEDT, brokers said.

IG Markets market analyst Stan Shamu said key resources stocks had tumbled after minutes from the US Federal Reserve's most recent monetary policy meeting suggested its quantitative easing may be halted.

This, in turn, affected key commodity prices like gold, and caused the Australian materials sector to open 2.65 per cent weaker.

"There's concern that without quantitative easing the US dollar will regain strength," Mr Shamu told AAP.

Speculation about a major hedge fund pulling out of commodities also contributed to the selling of resources sector shares.

"We don't know exactly what the source was, but it was credible enough to run through," Mr Shamu said.

Mining giant BHP Billiton led the market lower, falling 2.9 per cent, or $1.12, to hit $37.53 at 1040 AEDT.

Rival Rio Tinto was 2.59 per cent, or $1.80, weaker at $67.60.

Origin Energy's shares fell 7.71 per cent, or 95.5 cents, to $14.25 at 1059 AEDT after it said it feared its full year earnings would drop by up to 15 per cent after its interim profit fell 34 per cent to $524 million.

Qantas gained 4.33 per cent, or seven cents, after it said it had nearly tripled its first half profit to $111 million as it begins to realise the benefits of recent tough decisions.

Meanwhile, troubled newspaper publisher APN News and Media reported a $455.8 million full year loss, down from its $45.1 million loss in the previous corresponding period.

Its shares rose one cent to 28 cents by 1057 AEDT.

National turnover at 1026 AEDT was 344.0 million securities worth $865.0 million.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9298+0.0011+0.12%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5538+0.0003+0.06%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6726+0.0005+0.07%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg