UPDATE 9am: The Australian sharemarket is slightly lower at the open after only modest gains on Wall Street overnight.
At 9am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12.5 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 4128.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index was off 13.4 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 4161.9.
On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was down 10 points at 4096, with 7503 contracts traded. IG Markets analyst Cameron Peacock said the local market was subdued in early morning trade following a strong rally yesterday.
“We really rallied quite unexpectedly yesterday,” Mr Peacock said.
“We're about where we should be.”
The local market would be choppy and unpredictable ahead of the local earnings season, he said.
US stocks closed higher after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke gave a gloomy assessment of the economy to Congress and said the Fed would act if the situation gets worse.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 12,805.54, gaining 78.33 points (0.62 per cent) that more than erased Monday's losses.
Locally, the mining giants were lower.
At 8.30am, Rio Tinto was 89 cents down at $53.55 while BHP Billiton was down 24 cents at $30.56 after it flagged a five per cent rise in 2013 iron ore production after a bumper result for the June quarter.
Westpac was down 25 cents to $22.76, ANZ was 20 cents higher at $23.08, National Australia Bank gained nine cents to $23.79 and Commonwealth Bank was up 57 cents to $54.47.
Asciano shares gained three cents to $4.37 after it announced it will axe 270 jobs after completing a $348 million expansion of its container terminal at Port Botany in Sydney.
In economic news, Westpac-Melbourne Institute is scheduled to release its leading indexes of economic activity.
The price of gold in Sydney was $US1583.72 per fine ounce, up $US8.18 on yesterday's close at $US1591.90.At 8.17am, national turnover was 36 million securities worth $56 million, with 43 stocks up, 21 down and 94 unchanged.
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