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market focus returns to domestic gloom

  1. Market focus returns to domestic gloom

    US equity markets have taken a sizeable tumble, as reservations about the economy at home overpowered the relief of military success in Baghdad.

    Initially, the occupation of the Iraqi capital's centre provided a positive tonic for investors, who pushed New York's Dow Jones index up as much as 90 points at one stage.

    However, the focus has since turned to the upcoming profit-reporting season.

    Internet media company Yahoo is due to report shortly.

    Ahead of its earnings figures, its share price has dropped 4 per cent, weighing heavily on the Nasdaq market.

    The Nasdaq composite index has finished 26 points lower at 1,357, a decline of 1.9 per cent.

    The Dow Jones industrial average has closed 101 points down, at 8,198, a fall of 1.2 per cent.

    There has been a similar pattern of trade on the British share market.

    Expectations of a quick mopping-up in Iraq have given way to gloom about the economy.

    London's FT-100 index has dropped seven points to 3,861.

    Yesterday, the Australian market lost altitude, with Qantas shares falling more than four per cent to $3.07, as it announced the SARS outbreak, Iraqi war and global economic conditions had forced it to shed 1,400 jobs.

    Elsewhere, News Corporation made headway but profits were being taken in the banking sector.

    The All Ordinaries index finished 25 points lower at 2,916.

    In trade overnight on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the Share Price Index 200 contract closed down 14 points from yesterday's day settlement at 2,942.

    The 10-year bond contract is up 3.5 points at 94.67, with the implied yield easing to 5.33 per cent.

    On foreign exchange markets, the Australian dollar has made further gains against the backdrop of a generally weaker American dollar.

    At about 7:30am (AEST) the dollar was quoted at 60.55 US cents, up 0.3 of a cent on yesterday's local close.

    On the cross-rates, it was at 0.5621 euros, 72.69 Japanese yen, 38.72 pence Sterling and $NZ1.105.

    The gold price is sitting at $US326.85 an ounce.

    West Texas crude oil has risen to $US28.86 a barrel.

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