Italian stalemate drags down local market

The share market has ended the day lower, weighed down by a seemingly inconclusive election result in Italy and the fear that the political deadlock will delay economic reforms.

The All Ordinaries lost 1 per cent to 5,021 while the ASX 200 matched that fall, down 52 points to 5,004.

A large protest vote by Italians enraged by economic hardship and political corruption left no coalition strong enough to form a government after the weekend's elections.

Hopes of victory for Pier Luigi Bersani's pro-austerity party have faded.

It is likely to make it harder for one group to push through their plans to revive the economy, and may even stall Italy's process of cutting its public debt levels.

Asian markets also retreated; Japan's Nikkei dropped 2.2 per cent.

In Australia, there was a slew of company results.

QBE Insurance reported an 8 per cent rise in full-year profit to just under $500 million.

It enraged the Finance Sector Union by but not confirming how many of those jobs will be from Australia.

Shares ended down just over 2 per cent on a day where the finance sector slipped nearly 1 per cent Airline in half by the cost of the carbon tax, strong competition and economic uncertainty dragged down profits.

It made just $23 million; its shares lost almost 6 per cent.

Australia's biggest miners are on alert as in Western Australia's Pilbara.

Fortescue Metals and Atlas Iron have both locked down all operations in Port Hedland, with all work suspended, and some workers evacuated.

The Port handles a fifth of all sea-borne iron ore, and the cyclone has halted the loading of millions of tonnes of the commodity.

Rio has also suspended shipping.

Analysts say depending on how long the shutdowns last and the damage to the ports, it could hurt the miners' bottom lines.

Shares in BHP retreated 1.5 per cent; Rio saw a smaller fall.

The Australian dollar remained close to where it was at Monday's close.

About 5pm (AEDT) it was buying 102.8 US cents, 78.6 euro cents, 67.6 British pence and 94.5 Japanese yen.

West Texas crude was flat at $US93 a barrel, Tapis was also unchanged at $US119, while spot gold was higher at $US1,593 an ounce.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9292+0.0005+0.05%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.55350.00+0.01%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6725+0.0004+0.06%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg