Investors remain cautious prior to US’ release of its employment data resulting to Australian shares finishing weaker today.

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX200/ index went down by 16.6 points, or 39 percent, that is equal to 4,521.2. On the other hand, the All Ordinaries Index also went down by 13.1 points, or 0.3 percent, that is equal to 4.320.1 at the close.

With 19,799 contracts traded, the March share price index future contracts also went down by 22 points. Generally, there have been 1.89 billion shares that were traded for $4.22 billion.

With the US payroll figures due tonight, 150,000 extra jobs are expected to be added in January though the unemployment rate remains at 8.5 percent, according to the economists.

However, Peter Esho, City Index Chief Market Analyst, said "Ahead of the US jobs market figures out tonight, there's not much conviction out there”. Esho also expects that the Australian Equity Trading will remain silent.

"This will be the first real glimpse of how the world's largest economy is performing in the run-up to the election year,” he added.

According to strategists at BNP Paribas, “Markets are likely to trade sideways ahead of today’s all important non-farm payrolls report …as re-emphasized by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on testimony before Congress, the US has a long way to go before the jobs market can be considered normal.”

The broader market has also been outperformed by the miners. This is after Xtrata, an Anglo-Swiss business, had confirmed that it is in merger talks with Glencore, a commodity trading giant. This merger is expected to establish one of the largest mining companies in the world.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Metals in Australia had gained 1 percent and Newcrest Mining went up by 1.3 percent.