Aust shares weaker at noon
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BRISBANE, Feb 26 AAP
February 26 2013, 12:33AM
The Australian sharemarket is weaker at noon as uncertainty about the Italian election result helped weigh down a soft market.
At 1200 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 38.1 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 5,017.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 38.3 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 5,034.4 points.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 41 points at 5,001 points, with 18,474 contracts traded.
The local market followed Wall Street lower, after former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition appeared to be ahead in the Senate race, but only slightly behind in the lower house.
Still, RBS Morgans senior private client adviser Bill Chatterton said the uncertainty over the Italian election result was already factored in.
"It was always going to be uncertain so I don't think it was any new news, really," he told AAP.
The Australian market's fall in the lead-up to noon has also been half the drop experienced on Wall Street, as investors cashed in on recent local gains.
"We're more resilient certainly than the US market," he said.
"We're seeing a little bit of profit taking coming out of the market at the moment."
The big banks were in weaker territory, with the Commonwealth Bank shedding 18 cents to $65.57, Westpac losing eight cents to $30.29, ANZ relinquishing seven cents to $28.40 and National Australia Bank letting go of 14.5 cents to $30.13.
QBE Insurance shares fell 49 cents, or 3.61 per cent, to $12.55, after announcing an annual profit growth of eight per cent, lower than previously forecast due to severe droughts and storms in the United States.
QBE made a net profit of $US761 million ($A741.97 million) in the year to December 31, up from $US704 million in the previous corresponding period.
Seven Group Holdings shares rose 24 cents, or 2.39 per cent, to $10.29 after flagging a rise of up to 20 per cent in full year profit.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia shares lost 1.5 cents, or 3.45 per cent, to 42 cents, after revealing its first half profit has slumped by 56 per cent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 216.40 points, or 1.55 per cent, to 13,784.17, marking the index's biggest single-day drop since November.
The broad-based S&P 500 lost 27.75, or 1.83 per cent, to 1,487.85, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 45.57, or 1.44 per cent, to 3,116.25.
National turnover at 1207 AEDT was 815.99 million securities worth $1.703 billion with 277 up, 560 down and 335 unchanged.