UPDATE 7.20am: Australian shares opened slightly lower following lacklustre trading on European markets and Wall Street.
At 7.25am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 10.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 4437.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 9.8 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 4460.1 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was seven points lower at 4450 points, on volume of 4982 contracts.
Lonsec private client adviser Michael Heffernan said the Australian market was off to a tepid start after lacklustre leads from Europe and the US.
“Given the fact that overseas markets were pretty listless, the slow start was expected,” he said.
US stocks closed flat as persistent fears about the looming “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax hikes at year-end cast a cloud over encouraging China trade data.
The “fiscal cliff” refers to the huge tax hikes and spending cuts that will come into force on January 1 if US Republicans and Democrats are not able to reach a compromise.
In closing trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down two points (0.02 per cent) at 12,817.39.
London's FTSE 100 index of top companies edged down a mere 0.04 per cent to 5767.27 points overnight, while in Frankfurt the DAX 30 ended up just 0.07 per cent to 7168.76 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 slid 0.35 per cent lower to 3411.65 points.
Locally the best performing stocks at open were in the energy sector which was up 0.32 per cent and healthcare which gained 0.48 per cent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics posts lending finance figures for September and National Australia Bank releases its monthly business survey for October.
In equities news, fertiliser and explosives maker Incitec Pivot said it has lifted its annual profit by 10 per cent but fluctuating fertiliser prices continue to impact its earnings.
Incitec Pivot shares were up 16.5 cents, or 5.67 per cent, to $3.075.
Seven West Media and UGL are also due to hold their annual general meetings today.National turnover was 192.8 million securities worth $3.3 billion, with 227 stocks trading up, 277 down and 262 unchanged.
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