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MELBOURNE, Feb 5 AAP

February 05 2013, 10:56AM

The Australian share market has opened weaker after markets around the world plunged overnight.

At 1041 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 26.4 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 4,881.1, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 26.4 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 4,902.7.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 34 points at 4,835, with 9,637 contracts traded.

European markets posted the largest falls in overnight trade, due to political reasons including allegations of improper payments to members of Spain's ruling party and instability in Italy.

Europe's leading blue chip Stoxx50 index was more than three per cent lower.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 129.71 points, or 0.93 per cent, to 13,880.08.

The S&P 500 index fell by 1.15 per cent.

IG Markets market strategist Evan Lucas said markets were pulling back after a stellar January and first few days of February.

"It is not unexpected, the banks have really run up and are finally having a bit of a breather," he told AAP.

Macquarie Group updated the market on its operations on Tuesday, saying its capital markets businesses continued to experience subdued conditions.

Mr Lucas said that was an indication that despite the perception of a bull market, that move was still in its infancy.

Macquarie forecast a jump in net profit of 10 per cent, but that was below expectations and the investment bank's shares were down $1.33, or 3.4 per cent, at $37.42.

Among the major banks, Commonwealth had eased 39 cents to $64.32, ANZ shed 17 cents to $26.38, National Australia Bank lost 36 cents to $28.69 and Westpac slipped 16 cents to $27.78.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton dropped 45 cents to $37.36, and Rio Tinto fell 80 cents to $67.19.

Fortescue Metals shed nine cents to $4.70.

Also making news, Cochlear has returned to profitability with net profit of $77.7 million in the six months to December, up from a $20.4 million loss in the previous corresponding period.

Its shares were down $3.46, or 4.3 per cent, at $77.00.

Toll road operator Transurban posted a first half profit drop of 16 per cent to $81.1 million, and its shares were up 5.5 cents at $6.155.