Aust stocks open flat

Local market begins almost completely flat despite strong Wall St leads.

The Australian sharemarket has brushed off the fresh record high inked by Dow Jones index on Wall Street overnight, opening almost completely flat.

At the 10.15am (AEST) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 0.7 of a point, or 0.01%, to 5,489.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 0.6 of a points, or 0.01%, to 5,471.4 points.

At the close of a busy offshore session, the Dow advanced 43.12 (0.26%) to 16,578.49, topping a previous record by less than two points.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve continued with its economic taper, but noted the economy was picking up after a winter slowdown.

"The story today will come down to the iron ore players and the fact that we saw a really big break down in those prices last night," IG market strategist Evan Lucas said.

"If Chinese manufacturing data due out today shows again just an ever-so-slight expansion, it will probably push us back into the red.

"It's also May Day, so Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia are all shut, as well as Europe, so there will be light volumes.

"All of that could spell a little bit of red towards the back end of the day because the banks, as much of a positive day as they are going to have, it's probably not going to offset the pressure on the materials."

Locally in economic news, the federal government's National Commission of Audit report is due to be released.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will release the April index of commodity prices and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the March quarter international trade price indexes.

Meanwhile, Financial System Inquiry head David Murray is slated to provide an update on the inquiry at an Australian Business Economists lunch.

In equities news, BT Investment Management is expected to post first half results; Henderson Group, Bell Financial Group, IRESS and Ausenco have annual general meetings.

And Rio Tinto's head of iron ore, Andrew Harding, is to speak at a conference at the University of WA.

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