Aust shares open flat

Early trading on the Australian share market has been volatile, with swings up and down within a 25-point range.

It was expected to be a choppy day with mixed leads pointing to an unpredictable environment, CMC Markets chef market strategist Michael McCarthy said.

Mining and energy stocks were the only sectors making gains, while consumer and finance stocks were dragging down the broader market.

"It looks like portfolio selling," said Mr McCarthy.

A 4.1 per cent rise in the depressed iron ore price appeared to boost the miners, with BHP Billiton shares jumping 72 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $30.99, Rio Tinto was up $1.12 to $56.32 and Fortescue Metals had soared 21 cents, or 11 per cent, higher to $2.115.

The positive mood around iron ore was underlined by junior miner BC Iron rising eight cents, or 30.8 per cent, to 34 cents as it released a quarterly update that showed it was losing money.

Commonwealth Bank was down four cents at $91.08, National Australian Bank lost four cents to $38.07, ANZ had given up two cents to $35.47 and Westpac had gained one cent to $38.30.

KEY FACTS

* At 1040 AEST on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 4.2 points, or 0.07 per cent, higher at 5,841.7.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 4.8 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,817.6, according to preliminary figures.

* The June share price index futures contract was four points higher at 5,828, with 9,241 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 353.9 million securities worth $884.5 million.

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