Austalian shares have posted a flat start after a flash slide in German shares and jitters over a speech to be delivered on Friday (US time) by US Fed boss Ben Bernanke saw markets slide overnight.
In early trade, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 2.1 points higher at 4214.9 and the All Ordinaries gained 7 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4287.5.
After posting its biggest loss since 2008 on Wednesday, gold rebounded as US shares fell. The precious metal added $US5.90 following losses of over $US100 a day earlier.
Fairfax Media shares soared as much as 10 cents, or 12.9 per cent, to 87.5 cents in early trade after it reported a loss of $401 million - better than expected by analysts - following a $650 million writedown in the value of its newspaper mastheads.
Shares in Sims Metal gained 54 cents, or 3.6 per cent, to $15.36 and the metals group reported a 51.6 per cent jump in net profit for the year to $192.1 million.
Lend Lease shares eased 4 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $8.15 after reporting a 42.6 per cent rise in full-year profit to $492.8 million.For market data by sector, click here For share price information, click here For the latest currency movements, click hereFor all this season's earnings, click here
US stocks fell a day before Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke gives a much-anticipated speech that will offer hints of how the Fed may act to stimulate the ailing US economy.
Key numbers:S&P 500 lost 1.56% to 1159.27Dow Jones Indus Avg lost 1.51% to 11,149.82 Nasdaq Composite lost 1.95% to 2419.63
Stocks have slumped in recent weeks amid fears of a slowing US economy and fallout from Europe's debt crisis, and investors have been waiting to see if the Fed will react by further loosening monetary policy. But analysts were skeptical that Bernanke would endorse a further round of quantitative easing, or "QE", in which the Fed buys assets from banks with electronically-generated cash to inject money into the economy.
Bank of America skyrocketed by 9.4 per cent after billionaire Warren Buffett agreed to invest $US5 billion in the troubled US lender, whose share price has been pummelled in a brutal sell-off in recent weeks. Buffett's seal of approval for BofA appeared to help other bank stocks too, as Citigroup gained 4.9 per cent and Morgan Stanley jumped 2.7 per cent.
A flash slide in Germany's stock market dragged down indexes in Europe overnight erased earlier gains and shook the confidence of investors cheering a $US5 billion investment by Warren Buffett in Bank of America.
Germany's main index, the DAX, fell about 250 points in a matter of minutes to trade down more than 4 per cent before recovering.
Key numbers:London’s FTSE100 lost 1.4% to 5131.1In Paris, CAC 40 lost 0.7% to 3119In Frankfurt, the DAX lost 1.7% to 5584.14
In the news todayIn the gun: Investors have questioned the motivation behind Leighton’s decision to unceremoniously dump chief executive David Stewart after barely eight months in the jobBuffett buy-up: Warren Buffett will invest $US5 billion in Bank of Americs Corp, stepping in to shore up the largest US bank in the same way he helped prop up Goldman Sachs and General Electric during the financial crisis.Island of growth: Tony Chinese island of Macau emerges as Crown's main source of growth, offsetting Australian casinos hit by increased competition, poor consumer sentiment and renovations that have cramped operations.
How we fared yesterday
Australian shares rose, with investor sentiment buoyed by rallies on offshore markets, but the market pulled back slightly from earlier gains.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 45.2 points, or 1.1 per cent, at 4212.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 44.8 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 4280.5.
What you need to knowThe SPI was 44 points lower at 4170The $A was trading at $US1.0432In the US, the S&P500 lost 18.3pts, or 1.5%, to 1159.27In Europe, the FTSE100 lost 74.7pts, or 1.44%, to 5131.1Gold gained $US5.90 to $US1763.20 an ounceWTI crude oil rose 14 US cents to $US85.30 a barrel