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XAO which way today ????

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    Tuesday July 9, 5:53 pm Eastern Time
    Reuters Market News
    Australian stocks seen weaker on Wall St sell-off

    SYDNEY, July 10 (Reuters) - Australian stocks are expected to start weaker on Wednesday after the U.S. sharemarket took little comfort from President George Bush's tough talk on corporate fraud and fretted about an uncertain earnings outlook.
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    Both the Standard & Poor's 500 index (CBOE:^SPX - News) and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (CBOT:^DJI - News) racked up their biggest percentage declines in about five weeks.

    The Dow dropped 178.81 points, or 1.9 percent, to 9,096, after several brief flirts with positive territory. The Nasdaq (NasdaqSC:^IXIC - News) fell 24.5 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,381, while the broad S&P 500 fell 24.2 points, or 2.5 percent, to 952.83.

    Locally, the SFE's share price index contract closed down 19 points at 3,251.0, indicating a negative start to trade.

    The Australian market edged to its fourth positive close in a row on Tuesday, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index (Australia:^AXJO - News) adding 24.7 points or 0.76 percent to 3,258.4.

    Bargain hunting in majors such as News Corp (Australia:NCP.AX - News) and the big banks helped the overall market, with News (NYSE:NWS - News) gaining a further 1.6 percent in New York trade to add to its recent recovery.

    Among other Australian stocks traded offshore, resources group BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP - News) added 2.9 percent, miner WMC (NYSE:WMC - News) added 0.3 percent and National Australia Bank (NYSE:NAB - News) added 1.4 percent.

    In a market briefing after the local market closed, BHP said its energy coal unit was on track to beat its cost cutting target and forecast a price upturn for the commodity.

    Elsewhere on Wednesday, investors will be assessing the impact on financial services group AMP (Australia:AMP.AX - News) of savings market reforms proposed in Britain, which are expected to put pressure on smaller players.

    AMP told Reuters in London it was keen on a distribution tie-up with a UK bank to boost its position in Britain's life assurance sector.


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