Aust stocks open flat

Local market begins flat as Ukraine concerns weigh on mixed international leads.

The Australian sharemarket opened little changed after mixed performances on international markets on continued tension between Russia and and Ukraine, and disappointing economic data from China and Japan.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 4.3 points, or 0.08%, higher at 5,415.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged up 2.5 points, or 0.05%, to 5,433.3.

Beijing reported weak inflation data and a $US23 billion ($A25.52 billion) trade deficit in February, while analysts had forecast an $US11.9bn surplus.

Meanwhile Japan said its economy grew more slowly in the fourth quarter, 0.2%, than the previously reported 0.3%.

Russian gas giant Gazprom's threat to cut off supplies to Ukraine, which is the major transit country for the rest of Europe, also put the chill on stocks.

IG market strategist Stan Shamu said pure-play iron ore miners like Fortescue continued to slide in the wake of the weekend's disappointing Chinese export numbers.

The figures showed an 18 per cent slide in Chinese exports, which fuelled fears about the outlook for the world's second largest economy and saw a sharp slide in iron ore prices.

Mr Shamu said iron ore stocks would be the key ones to watch over the next few days.

"I think a lot of investors will be thinking `when will be a good time to buy these stocks?'," he said.

"But as long as the volume on the sell side continues to be this intense there is probably no rush to pick the bottom in these stocks."

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