International markets were collectively weaker overnight.
In Europe the FTSE shed 46 points (-0.8%) to settle at 5846, whilst the French CAC (-1.6%) and German DAX (-1.3%) suffered heavier declines.
German manufacturing PMI disappointed, with the month-on-month reading coming in at 48.1 vs. an expected 51 (Prev. 50.2)
UK retail sales also came in weaker than expected, (Feb) M/M -0.8% vs. an expected -0.5% (Prev. 0.9%, Rev. 0.3%).
Eurozone consumer confidence came in slightly better than expected however, with March’s reading at -19.0 vs. an expected -19.8 (Prev. -20.3)
Stateside, the Dow Jones slipped a further 78 points (-0.6%) to settle at 13046, whilst the S&P shed 0.7% and the Nasdaq lost 0.4%.
It was the third consecutive losing session for US stocks with evidence of an improving U.S. job market failing to lift sentiment.
The U.S. Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 348,000, the lowest level in four years.
The Aussie dollar continued its retreated, hitting a low of US$1.035 before bouncing back a touch to settle below the US$1.04 handle this morning.
Elsewhere, the yen rose by more than 1% against all of its 16 most-traded peers as weaker factory data in Europe and China spurred concern economic growth was slowing, boosting safety demand.
Commodities were caught up in the global selloff, with copper (-2%), crude (-1.7%) and gold (-0.5%) all losing ground.
Oil fell to a one-week low after manufacturing in the euro area and China contracted this month, signalling that fuel consumption may decline.
There is no major local economic data due out for today’s session.