Aust stocks slide 1.2% at open

Local market follows Wall Street lower as escalating tensions between Russia and the West, weaker Chinese data spook investors.

The Australian sharemarket opened more than one per cent lower, following the downbeat lead of Wall Street where escalating tensions between Russia and the West, along with weaker Chinese data, saw the major indices close sharply in the red.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 68.4 points, or 1.26%, lower at 5,344.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 67 points, or 1.23%, to 5,362.1.

US President Barack Obama said overnight that if Russia continued an aggressive path in Ukraine, the US and other countries would be "forced to apply costs" to Moscow.

The president made his remarks after meeting with Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House.

In the US, at the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 231.19 points, or 1.42%, to 16,108.89.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 21.86 points, or 1.17%, to 1,846.34, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slumped 62.91 points, or 1.46%, to 4,260.42.

In local economic news on Friday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases lending finance figures for January.

Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu, is slated to speak at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) lunch in Perth.

In equities news, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce appears at a Senate committee hearing into the airline's future while Rio Tinto is expected to publish its annual report.

In Australia, the market on Thursday pushed the sharemarket higher, after heavy falls in iron ore prices came to an end.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 28.4 points, or 0.53%, to 5,412.6 points.

The broader All Ordinaries index gained 28.6 points, or 0.53%, to 5,429.1.