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Aust stocks open flat

The Australian market has opened flat after already adjusting to the news of unrest in Ukraine.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said the local market was the first to move on Monday to news that Ukraine was on the brink of war with Russia in a crisis that began three months ago with civilian protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

"We've already made the adjustment to the Ukraine news while the US and UK markets made the adjustment last night," he said.

He said whether the local market reacts further to the situation in Ukraine would depend on what happened next.

Mr Spooner said military engagement, the Russians moving west from Crimea or any threats to gas supplies could affect global markets.

Locally, the market has reacted to news that the federal government has announced its support for the repeal of the Qantas sale act which restricts foreign ownership but will not extend a debt guarantee to the struggling airline.

Mr Spooner said Qantas shares had remained flat on the news as it had been widely anticipated and the repeal of the Qantas sale act still had to go through parliament.

At 1021 AEDT Qantas shares remained flat at $1.15 despite being among the most traded stock on the local market, with 2,149,608 shares traded.

The news had a bigger effect on Qantas' rival Virgin with its shares falling 0.25 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to 35.25 cents.

"If the repeal of the Qantas sale act does go through it would remove the competitive advantage Virgin has," Mr Spooner said.

He said there was also the possibility that a foreign owner would chase Qantas' market share more aggressively.

Newcrest Mining shares continued to rally as the local gold price remained strong.

The miner's shares gained 19.5 cents, or 1.63 per cent, to $12.185.

The mining giants all had a positive start to the day with BHP Billiton adding four cents, or 0.11 per cent, to $37.44 and Rio Tinto jumping eight cents, or 0.12 per cent, to $65.87.


* At 1021 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 3.8 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,388.1 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 3.4 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 5,400.9 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was down 3 points at 5,386 points, with 9,615 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 251.6 million securities worth $294.8 million.