Aust stocks close lower

Local market falls slightly amid losses across Asia on weak global leads.

The Australian stock market closed slightly lower today after weak leads from international markets overnight as investors remain uneasy about tapering timelines.

At the 1615 AEST official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 0.35% weaker at 5,234.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 0.31% to 5,229.5 points.

CMC Markets analyst William Leys said concern over the Federal Reserve's stimulus plans "remains the talking point and key driver of global markets".

"There is growing apprehension over the cohesion within the central bank, and some quarters are now criticising its apparent QE indecision," Mr Leys said.

"Political wrangling over the US government's debt ceiling is adding to the general unease."

IG analyst Chris Weston said markets across Asia fell in today's trade.

"There hasn’t been any major news today and the weaker leads from Europe and Wall Street have simply been replicated in Asian markets," Mr Weston said.

"Asian traders have largely sat on their hands today, and asked where to from here it seems price action in many risk assets is looking a little tired.

"Valuations in many developed equities are far from compelling, but nowhere near extremes. While we continue to see signs that the global recovery is underway, there are reasons to be a little cautious."

Materials were mostly lower, with the major miners in the red.

BHP Billiton fell 0.64% to $35.87, while Rio Tinto was 0.75% lower at $62.10.

Fortescue Metals rose 2.83% to $4.72, after it announced it was taking over the management and supervision of two facilities at Christmas Creek.

Whitehaven Coal was 0.99% lower at $2.00 while Newcrest fell one% to $11.91.

In the energy sector, Santos added 1.48% to $15.10, Oil Search fell 0.23% to $8.50 and Woodside declined 0.31% to $38.60.

Financials were weaker across the board.

Commonwealth Bank retreated 0.83% to $72.90, while ANZ Banking Group fell 0.64% to $30.99.

National Australia Bank lost 0.6% to $34.62 and Westpac Banking Corporation slipped 0.18% to $32.74.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 0.71% to $48.77.

In the insurance sector, QBE retreated 0.81% to $14.66, Insurance Australia Group was flat at $5.85 and Suncorp dropped 0.15% to $13.03.

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