Aust stocks open flat

Local market struggles for direction following modest falls on Wall Street.

The Australian sharemarket opened almost entirely flat after Wall Street fell with a sell-off in technology companies outweighing encouraging economic news.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched 0.1 of a point higher, to be completely flat by percentage at 5,350.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 0.4 of a point, or 0.01%, to 5,359.3 points.

Data showed that the US economy grew 2.6% in the fourth quarter of last year, expanding more strongly than previously thought.

And, US initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totalled 311,000 in the week to March 22, down from 321,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said. The four-week moving average fell by 9,500 to 317,750 claims. A year ago the average stood at 343,000 claims.

Locally, no major economic or equities news is expected on Friday.

However, Apache Energy regional vice-president for Australia and managing director, Faron Thibodeaux, is scheduled to speak at CEDA a lunch.

In Australia, the market on Thursday closed lower, weighed down by weaker commodity prices and a stronger Australian dollar.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 26.7 points, or 0.5%, to 5,350.1.