Aust stocks close lower

Local market falls after Fed's mixed signals and RBA's less dovish minutes.

The Australian stock market has closed lower as investors digest mixed signals from the United States Federal Reserve but lack incentive to push stocks higher. 

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lost 0.59 per cent to 5,352.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 0.56 per cent lower at 5,347.8 points.

Locally, the Reserve Bank of Australia said in its November meeting minutes there was mounting evidence its monetary policy was taking effect, with IG analyst Stan Shamu nothing the minutes were less dovish than the market expected.

Mr Shamu said comments from the US central bank are sending mixed signals, with New York Fed president William Dudley saying he is more hopeful the economy is gaining strength, while Philadelphia Fed CEO Charles Plosser said the bank missed a good opportunity to start tapering in September.

"There are no fresh catalysts to keep pushing equities higher at the moment and Fedspeak continues to throw some mixed signals into the mix," Mr Shamu said. 

Caution is prevailing in the local market, where iron ore miners have not been able to take advantage of a resilient iron ore price, he said. 

Materials were mostly lower.

BHP Billiton retreated 0.13 per cent at $37.90, while rival Rio Tinto slipped 0.75 per cent to $65.16.

Fortescue Metals lost 0.17 per cent to $5.88, while Newcrest decreased 0.87 per cent to $9.16.

Whitehaven Coal fell 0.99 per cent to $1.495.

In energy, Oil Search fell 0.35 per cent to $8.43, while Santos shed 1.63 per cent to $14.50 andWoodside Petroleum fell 0.13 per cent to $38.50.

Financials were broadly weaker.

ANZ fell 0.56 per cent to $31.92 and Commonwealth Bank shed 0.18 per cent to $77.20.

National Australia Bank lost 0.84 per cent to $34.07, and Westpac dropped one per cent to $32.54.

Investment bank Macquarie Group lost 0.95 per cent to $53.11.

In insurance, IAG fell 0.66 per cent to $6.02, Suncorp lost 0.08 per cent to $13.29, and QBE fell 0.26 per cent to $15.59.

The retail sector also mostly fell.

Wesfarmers fell 0.59 per cent to $43.75, while rival Woolworths lost 0.7 per cent to $33.86.

Myer retreated 1.39 per cent to $2.84 and rival David Jones lost 0.99 per cent to $2.99.

Harvey Norman shed 0.92 per cent to $3.22, while JB Hi-Fi lost 1.4 per cent to $21.19. 

Fairfax Media fell 0.82 per cent to 60.5 cents, 21st Century Fox fell 0.97 per cent to $35.60 andNews Corp lost 1.57 per cent to $18.76.

Ten Network dropped 6.9 per cent to 27 cents, while Seven West rose 1.78 per cent to $2.29 andSouthern Cross Media was flat at $1.615.

Blue chip Qantas fell 4.26 per cent to $1.125, while Telstra lost 0.78 per cent to $5.11.