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Wall Street fall a bad sign for local shares

THE Australian sharemarket is expected to open lower today after Wall Street fell heavily on Friday night, topping off a roller-coaster week for markets in the world's biggest economy.

Shares fell more than 1 per cent on Friday night in the US for the second time in a week, following similar falls in Britain, after renewed fears the European debt crisis had flared again on rising Spanish and Italian bond yields. News on Friday that Chinese growth had slipped to its slowest level in three years in the first quarter of 2012, at 8.1 per cent, also contributed.

Futures contracts suggest the Australian market will open down 31 points today. The S&P/ASX200 closed last week at 4323.3 points.

Tomorrow, the Reserve Bank will release the minutes of its April 3 monetary policy meeting, and the Bureau of Statistics will release data for the sales of new motor vehicles for March.