Aust stocks flat at noon

Local market pares early losses as banks lead recovery, despite fears over Syrian crisis

The Australian stock market recovered from a sharp early fall to sit flat at noon, as the banking sector rallied, despite growing fears over as escalation in the Syrian crisis.

At the 1205 AEST official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was flat at 5,135.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged 0.05% lower to 5,124.7 points.

IG market analyst Chris Weston said "the fear in the market today is the escalation of the Syrian crisis, with Secretary of State John Kerry stating that the President will hold Syria’s government to account for the use of chemical weapons".

CMC Markets Stockbroking's Tracey Warren said gold had benefited from the recent geopolitical turmoil, continuing to edge higher overnight and breaking above $1,400 an ounce for the first time since early June.

Financials reversed early losses, with the big four banks in the black

Commonwealth Bank rose 0.73% to $73.11, while ANZ Banking Group added 0.77% to $30.05.

National Australia Bank increased 0.34% to $32.66, while Westpac Banking Corporation put on 0.46% to $31.825.

In the insurance sector, QBE fell 2.51% to $15.56, Insurance Australia Group lost 0.17% to $5.77 and Suncorp fell 0.4% to $12.32.