Aust stocks fall at noon

Local market falls as Bernanke reassures global bourses rates will stay low.

The Australian stock market has fallen further at noon after overnight falls on international markets despite Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reassuring markets that interest rates will remain low as it considers reducing its bond-buying program.

At 1205 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.81% to 5,309.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 0.76% to 5,306.9 points.

Financials were mostly lower.

ANZ fell 0.97% to $31.61 and Commonwealth Bank shed 0.61% to $76.73.

National Australia Bank lost 0.53% to $33.89, and Westpac dropped 0.65% to $32.33.

Investment bank Macquarie Group lost 0.26% to $52.97.

In insurance, IAG rose 0.17% to $6.03, Suncorp lost 0.15% to $13.27 and QBE shed 0.26% to $15.55.

Materials were broadly weaker.

BHP Billiton retreated 0.77% at $37.61, while rival Rio Tinto slipped 0.78% to $64.65.

Fortescue Metals lost 1.19% to $5.81, while Newcrest increased 0.22% to $9.18.

Whitehaven Coal fell 0.33% to $1.49.

In energy, Oil Search fell 1.01% to $8.345, while Santos shed one% to $14.355 and Woodside Petroleum fell 0.75% to $38.21.

The retail sector also fell.

Wesfarmers fell 0.11% to $43.70, while rival Woolworths lost one% to $33.52.

Myer shed 0.7% to $2.82 and rival David Jones lost 0.67% to $2.97.

Harvey Norman fell 1.4% to $3.175, while JB Hi-Fi lost 2.45% to $20.67.

Fairfax Media was flat at 60.5 cents, 21st Century Fox fell 1.49% to $35.07 and News Corp shed 0.16% to $18.73.

Ten Network added 0.93% to 27.25 cents, while Seven West retreated 1.09% to $2.265 and Southern Cross Media rose 0.31% to $1.62.

Blue chip Qantas rose 2.22% to $1.15, while Telstra lost 0.98% to $5.06.

In economic news, Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor (financial markets) Guy Debelle is slated to be a panel discussant at the Centre for International Finance and Regulation (CIFR) Forum on Perspectives on Financial Markets in Sydney.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases October international merchandise imports data and the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Indexes of Economic Activity is out, while the Commonwealth Bank business sales indicator for October is expected.

In equities news, Virgin Australia, Myer Holdings, Lynas Corporation, Cabcharge Australia, Kathmandu Holdings, Drillsearch Energy and PMP have annual general meetings scheduled.

In Australia, the market yesterday closed lower for a second straight day as investors sold banking shares on fears that US stocks are overpriced.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 31.8 points, or 0.59%, at 5,352.9.

The broader All Ordinaries index was down 30.1 points, or 0.56%, at 5,347.8.

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