Aust stocks open slightly lower

Local market slips after BHP second-quarter production numbers disappoint.

The Australian stock market has opened lower after a mixed lead from Wall Street and a second-quarter production report from mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd that missed analyst expectations.

At the 1015 AEDT official market open, the benchmark index S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.3% to 5,315.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 0.29% to 5,326.6 points.

IG markets analyst Evan Lucas said fundamental questions around the strength of United States earnings remain, adding that the current earning season is masking a disappointing start.

"This coupled with questions about the health of the iron ore price and BHP reporting production numbers to the market before the bell, sentiment is currently seeing the market treading water," Mr Lucas said.

Locally, in economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases CPI data for the December quarter while the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Indexes of Economic Activity for November is also due out.

In major equities news, BHP Billiton posted its second quarter production report, showing record production levels that fell short of analyst forecasts.

In Australia, the market yesterday shook off a negative start to finish higher as strength among the major banks outweighed weakness in the resources sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 36.5 points, or 0.69%, at 5,331.5 points.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 34.4 points, or 0.65%, at 5,342.0 points.

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