Aust stocks open more than 1% weaker

The Australian stock market looks set to open sharply lower following hefty falls on international markets after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank may start winding back its stimulus measure before the end of the year.

The Australian stock market looks set to open sharply lower following hefty falls on international markets after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank may start winding back its stimulus measure before the end of the year.

At the 1015 AEST official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index slumped 1.28% to 4,697.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index declined 1.29% to 4,682.6 points.

Financials led the market’s losses, with the big four deep in negative territory.

Commonwealth Bank declined 1.6% $65.20, while ANZ Banking Group lost 1.34% to $27.28.

National Australia Bank shed 1.54% to $28.75 and Westpac Banking Corporation fell 2.25% to $27.525.

Investment bank Macquarie Group retreated 1.61% to $41.49.

In the insurance sector, QBE decreased 0.74% to $16.06, Insurance Australia Group shed 0.92% to $5.38 and Suncorp declined 0.98% to $12.09.

Resources stocks took a hit, with the major miners both charting steep losses.

Rio Tinto contracted 1.2% to $52.50, while BHP Billiton decreased 1.52% to $31.66.

Fortescue Metals fell 2.87% to $3.05.

Whitehaven Coal was flat at $2.19 and Newcrest lost 5.95% to $10.11.

In the energy sector, Santos shed 0.95% to $12.50, Oil Search lost 0.76% to $7.83 and Woodside dropped 1.59% to $34.57.

The retail sector was also lower.

Wesfarmers declined 1.24% to $38.15 while Woolworths added 0.06% to $32.02.

Myer retracted 1.76% to $2.36 while rival David Jones tumbled 1.24% to $2.41.

Harvey Norman retreated 0.81% to $2.46, while JB Hi-Fi fell 1.01% to $15.70.

In media, Fairfax Media lost 2.43% to 50.25 cents, while rival News Corp slipped 2.85% to $30.02.

Ten Network lost 1.85% to 26.5 cents.

Southern Cross Media declined 0.38% to $1.325, while Seven West retracted 1.98% to $1.98.

Meanwhile, blue chip Telstra fell 0.66% to $4.55, while Qantas sank 2.26% to $1.295.

No major economic or equities news is expected today,

Meanwhile, GM Holden managing director Mike Devereux is scheduled to address American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch in Melbourne.

In Australia, the market on Thursday suffered its worst loss in a day since February amid jitters over the US stimulus measures and weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data.

The major ASX 200 and All Ordinaries index closed more than two% down.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 103 points, or 2.12%, at 4,758.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 97.9 points, or 2.02%, to 4,743.9 points.