Aust stocks close slightly lower

Local market edges down as Crimea votes in line with expectations.

The Australian sharemarket closed slightly lower today as Crimeans voted to join Russia, in line with expectations, while investors also watched a large outflow in United States treasuries from the Federal Reserve's custody.

At the 4.15pm (AEDT) market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 11.8 points, or 0.22%, to 5,317.6, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 11.9 points, or 0.22%, to 5,335.2.

Early results showed 95.5% of Crimea residents voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, according to local officials.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said there were limited moves in gold and US futures as the Crimea vote went as expected.

He noted speculation that the $104.5 billion fall in the Fed's foreign holdings of US treasuries was Russia transferring its position to a third party.

"Naturally we don’t actually know who transferred their holdings, but if it was Russia then it makes sense to take this proactive action," Mr Weston said.

"Despite the US treasury market having extremely deep liquidity pools, a sale of $105 billion would scare the life out of the buyers."

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