Aust stocks close flat

Local market ends little changed as mining stocks dampen earlier gains.

The Australian stockmarket finished flat as weakness among mining stocks dampened earlier gains.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index slipped 0.02% to 5316 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was flat at 5318.7 points.

The local bourse had a strong start after markets in Europe and the United States rallied overnight.

But local investors appeared to be unimpressed by the brief return to confidence in Europe and the US, and instead focused on the vulnerabilities of local iron ore stocks, CMC Markets analyst Ric Spooner said.

"We've seen a bit of ongoing pressure in the iron ore sector and resource stocks generally," Mr Spooner said.

"In the last couple of days, people are positioning a little bit for lacklustre or moderate growth in China."

He said some local investors believed the rallies in Europe and the US were specific to those economies.

"One of the features of this year might be that we might be dragged down by the relative underperformance of emerging markets," he said.

Investors were also waiting for the release of a raft of overseas data later in the week.

Materials were mostly weaker.

BHP Billiton declined 0.46% to $37.04, while rival Rio Tinto lost 0.98% to $65.35.

Fortescue Metals retreated 0.92% to $5.39 and Newcrest shed 1.98% to $8.41.

Whitehaven Coal closed flat at $1.85, while Santos declined 0.42% to $14.29.

Oil Search increased 0.87% to $8.12 and Woodside Petroleum added 0.58% to $37.88.

Financials retreated from a strong start, and mostly remained in the red in the afternoon.

ANZ slipped 0.47% to $31.71, while Commonwealth Bank rose 0.21% to $77.88.

National Australia Bank retreated 0.29% to $34.40, while Westpac declined 0.12% to $32.04.

Investment bank Macquarie Group lifted 0.06% to $54.38.

In insurance, IAG was flat at $5.77, while Suncorp was flat at $13.05. QBE shed 0.76% to $11.78.

The retail sector was mostly stronger.

Woolworths rose 0.33% to $33.87, while Wesfarmers inclined 0.57% to $43.92.

Myer gained 0.37% to $2.74, while rival David Jones was flat at $2.98.

Harvey Norman retreated 0.62% to $3.20, while JB Hi-Fi gained 0.56% to $21.50.

In media, Fairfax Media was flat at 64.5 cents, 21st Century Fox rallied 0.26% to $38.30 and News Corp lost 1.92% to $19.40.

Ten Network gained 3.17% to 32.5 cents, while Seven West lost 3.02% to $2.25 and Southern Cross Media declined 5.01% to $1.61.

Telstra closed flat at $5.28, while Qantas rose 0.92% to $1.10..

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