Aust stocks close slightly lower

Local market narrows losses after China's positive reaction to Third Plenum.

The Australian stock market has narrowed morning losses after investors noted a positive reaction in China to comments from a key Communist Party meeting last week.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 slipped 0.31% to 5,384.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index decreased 0.34% to 5,377.9 points.

IG analyst Stan Shamu said the local market lagged the region today but did well to come off its lows.

"There was a great degree of caution at the open, but as soon as China opened and investors got a sense of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the comments from the Third Plenum, we saw the local market recover," Mr Shamu said.

"The major materials names are now in the black helped by the move we are seeing in China.

"However, the banks are lagging and I suspect this is to do with a switch into the cyclical names."

Mining services names have been firmer today after underperforming all year, he said.

Financials were mostly lower.

ANZ fell 0.56% to $32.10 and Commonwealth Bank shed 0.58% to $77.34.

National Australia Bank inched up 0.17% to $34.36, and Westpac dropped 0.39% to $32.87.

Investment bank Macquarie Group lost 1.7% to $53.62.

In insurance, IAG was flat at $6.06, Suncorp lost 0.45% to $13.30, and QBE rose 0.71% to $15.63.

Materials were mixed, with the major miners in the black.

BHP Billiton rose 0.16% at $37.95, while rival Rio Tinto added 0.21% to $65.65.

Fortescue Metals rose 0.86% to $5.89, while Newcrest fell 3.75% to $9.24 after announcing its general counsel's resignation.

Whitehaven Coal was flat at $1.51.

In energy, Oil Search slipped 0.59% to $8.46, while Santos shed 1.01% to $14.74 and Woodside Petroleum fell 0.26% to $38.45.

The retail sector was mostly weaker.

Wesfarmers fell 0.32% to $44.01, while rival Woolworths rose 0.41% to $34.10.

Myer retreated 1.37% to $2.88 and rival David Jones fell 1.95% to $3.02.

Harvey Norman shed 0.91% to $3.25, while JB Hi-Fi lost 1.42% to $21.49.

Fairfax Media was flat at 61 cents, 21st Century Fox fell 0.66% to $35.95 and News Corp added 1.44% to $19.06.

Ten Network jumped 5.45% to 29 cents, while Seven West lost 1.32% to $2.25 and Southern Cross Media dropped 2.42% to $1.615.

Blue chip Qantas fell 1.67% to $1.175, while Telstra lost 0.39% to $5.15.

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