UPDATE 7.20am: The Australian sharemarket has opened more than three quarters of a per cent lower, driven down by falls in the resources sector after a last minute sell-off in the US.
At 7.32am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 38.2 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 5065.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 37.4 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 5083 points.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 34 points lower at 5051 points, with 9886 contracts traded.
IG Markets market strategist Evan Lucas said a reasonable week of gains and a late session sell-off on Wall Street proved to be major factors at Friday's open.“Yesterday we saw energy and the miners doing quite well and already this morning you're seeing that pull back,” he said.
“There's just a bit of a feeling that risk is off.”
Rio Tinto stocks shed $1.14, or 1.7 per cent, to $65.91, following the appointment of Chris Lynch as its new chief financial officer after the market closed yesterday.
BHP Billiton followed suit, with its shares falling 49 cents, or 1.32 per cent, to $36.58.
Fortescue Metals was down, dropping 11 cents to $4.61, and Newcrest Mining 48 cents lower at $22.18.
All of the major banks also lost ground, with Commonwealth Bank stocks falling 29 cents to $66.98, ANZ down 16 cents at $28.56, National Australia Bank one cent behind at $30.19 and Westpac sliding 13 cents to $30.64.
Making news, shares in Ten Network were up one cent, or 3.03 per cent to 34.5 cents, amid speculation that Seven Group chairman Kerry Stokes is increasing his stake in the company.
Mr Lucas said there was little domestic news to influence the market on Friday, with investors more focused on Friday's release of official Chinese manufacturing figures and the passage of $85 billion worth of automatic US government spending cuts.
“It's going to be a sort of a dull day, in terms of local news and any sort of stock news,” he said.
“Investors will probably cash in and wait to see what happens in the US tonight, particularly considering the sequester bill will pass at midnight over in the US tomorrow night for us.
“The other thing will be those China PMI data that will also probably see the market come off slightly as well.”National turnover was 441.5 million securities worth $1.04 billion.
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