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Market Wrap
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:50am
By AAP  |  In Economics

The Australian share market has opened half a per cent lower following the lead of international markets amid fresh concerns over China's cooling economy after a warning on dropping iron ore demand.

At 1011 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 23.1 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 4,251.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 22.4 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 4,343.2.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 19 points at 4,265, with 6,895 contracts traded.

The local market tracked the fall in offshore markets, and also lost ground after base metals prices and the Australian dollar fell in overnight trading, John Curtin, associate director with Patersons Securities, said.

"You had commodities fall overnight so our commodity stocks have fallen today," he said.

"BHP is leading the charge lower."

Mining giant BHP Billiton fell 64 cents, or 1.81 per cent, to $34.67, while Rio Tinto lost 84 cents, or 1.28 per cent, to $64.77.

Wall Street's major indices made modest losses, as concerns over China's slowing growth spilled over from the Asian trading session to European and US investors.

BHP on Tuesday warned that China's iron ore demand appeared to be flattening, raising growth alarms on the world's second-largest economy.

US housing starts fell 1.1 per cent in February, also dampening US investors' confidence.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 68.94 points, or 0.52 per cent, to to 13,170 points, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.23 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,405.5 points.

The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite shed 4.17 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 3,074.2 points.

Oil majors were led lower by Woodside Petroleum which declined 25 cents, or 0.71 per cent, to $35.07.

Banks were steady, and outperforming the market slightly, Mr Curtin said.

The big four were mostly flat except for Commonwealth Bank which fell 15 cents, or 0.31 per cent to $48.75.

David Jones dived 30 cents, or 11 per cent, to $2.43 at 1021 after warning its full year profit will plunge by up to 40 per cent following a near 20 per cent slide in first half earnings.

The result was within market expectations, Mr Curtin said.

Rival Myer Holdings eased one cent to $2.25, but outdoor equipment and clothing retailer Kathmandu plunged 24.5 cents, or 16.44 per cent, to $1.245 after posting a 43 per cent slump in first half profit to $NZ6 million ($A4.71 million).

Amcor's shares gained six cent to $7.03 after the packaging maker paid $19.8 million for flexible packaging business Uniglobe of India.

Market turnover was 395 million shares, worth $677 million, with 214 stocks trading up, 379 down and 311 unchanged.

AAP ahb/cdh

Eds: reissuing to read the June share price index future, sted March as sent (par 3)

MELBOURNE, March 21 AAP - The Australian share market has opened half a per cent lower following the lead of international markets amid fresh concerns over China's cooling economy after a warning on dropping iron ore demand.

At 1011 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 23.1 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 4,251.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 22.4 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 4,343.2.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 19 points at 4,265, with 6,895 contracts traded.

The local market tracked the fall in offshore markets, and also lost ground after base metals prices and the Australian dollar fell in overnight trading, John Curtin, associate director with Patersons Securities, said.

"You had commodities fall overnight so our commodity stocks have fallen today," he said.

"BHP is leading the charge lower."

Mining giant BHP Billiton fell 64 cents, or 1.81 per cent, to $34.67, while Rio Tinto lost 84 cents, or 1.28 per cent, to $64.77.

Wall Street's major indices made modest losses, as concerns over China's slowing growth spilled over from the Asian trading session to European and US investors.

BHP on Tuesday warned that China's iron ore demand appeared to be flattening, raising growth alarms on the world's second-largest economy.

US housing starts fell 1.1 per cent in February, also dampening US investors' confidence.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 68.94 points, or 0.52 per cent, to to 13,170 points, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.23 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,405.5 points.

The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite shed 4.17 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 3,074.2 points.

Oil majors were led lower by Woodside Petroleum which declined 25 cents, or 0.71 per cent, to $35.07.

Banks were steady, and outperforming the market slightly, Mr Curtin said.

The big four were mostly flat except for Commonwealth Bank which fell 15 cents, or 0.31 per cent to $48.75.

David Jones dived 30 cents, or 11 per cent, to $2.43 at 1021 after warning its full year profit will plunge by up to 40 per cent following a near 20 per cent slide in first half earnings.

The result was within market expectations, Mr Curtin said.

Rival Myer Holdings eased one cent to $2.25, but outdoor equipment and clothing retailer Kathmandu plunged 24.5 cents, or 16.44 per cent, to $1.245 after posting a 43 per cent slump in first half profit to $NZ6 million ($A4.71 million).

Amcor's shares gained six cent to $7.03 after the packaging maker paid $19.8 million for flexible packaging business Uniglobe of India.

Market turnover was 395 million shares, worth $677 million, with 214 stocks trading up, 379 down and 311 unchanged.

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