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Slow start tipped for local exchange
Slow start tipped for local exchange

Australian stocks have started the week slightly higher despite negatives leads out of the US and Europe on Friday.

At 8.40am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 6.5 points, or 0.15 per cent, higher at 4393.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 5.9 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 4412.8 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 17 points up at 4401 points, with 11,273 contracts traded.

In equities news, trading was likely to be light and little company news was expected given the public holiday across most of the country.

A Federal Reserve official’s doubts about the impact of the QE3 stimulus pulled the rug from under US stock markets on Friday, sending them lower after strong early gains.

There are persisting concerns about Spain, where a decision from ratings agency Moody’s is due which could take the country in junk bond status.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said the market would be watching for Chinese manufacturing figures due out on today, following the release of weak manufacturing figures in the US on Friday.

“Spain’s ratings watch is limiting the upside, with everyone trying to figures out what’s happening and growth concerns continue to hamper progress,” he told AAP.

In Australia, Arrium, formerly OneSteel, shares were in a trading halt at 54.5 cents after it said it had rejected a 75 cents a a share takeover offer from a consortium of Singapore and Korean groups.

The approach to the steelmaker and miner was made on Friday evening.

Major miner BHP Billiton advanced 17 cents to $33.21, Rio Tinto fell eight cents to $53.28 and Fortescue Metals were one cent off at $3.48.

The major banks were in positive territory with Commonwealth Bank shares rising 20 cents to $55.97, NAB putting on 14 cents to $25.63, Westpac improving 14 cents to $24.99 and ANZ up six cents to $24.81.

Local national local turnover was 225.3 million securities worth $356.4 million, with 262 stocks up, 237 down and 235 unchanged.