The Australian share market is flat at lunchtime in the East, despite a positive start.
It was a negative finish on Wall Street overnight, with the S&P 500 Index having its worst start to a trading year since 2005.
Financial stocks are slightly firmer by 0.3 per cent but the materials sector is down 0.6 per cent.
History has been made in the US today, with the Senate giving the green light to President Obama's nomination of Janet Yellen as the incoming US Federal Reserve Chair. Yellen received the confirmation with a total 56 votes to 26. Many senators were unable to vote due to delays associated with snowstorms which have covered America's north-east, delaying flights. Yellen will take the top job on February 1. It is the first time in the Fed's 100 year history that a woman has been endorsed as the Chair of the Central Bank.
Trade data for November has been released by the ABS today showing our trade deficit came in at $118 million in the month with imports down one per cent and exports unchanged.
In other economic news, the national petrol price lifted by 6 cents a litre in the past week - marking the largest increase to start a calendar year in records going back to 2004. Unfortunately for motorists, CommSec believes there will be further price hikes ahead. A weaker Aussie dollar is pushing up the cost of imported fuel. On a positive note, news that Libya is preparing to restart a major oilfield may help to alleviate significant price pressures over the medium to longer term.
On the market overall, a total of 653 million shares changed hands, with a value of $776 million. 340 are up, 337 are down and 277 are unchanged.
At 11.30am AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index is at 5302m down two points.
The Australian dollar is buying US89.57c.
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