Aust stocks flat at noon

Local market unchanged despite signs of recovery in Europe, stellar Wesfarmers windfall.

The Australian stock market was unchanged at noon as investors failed to take inspiration from signs Europe was emerging from recession or a stellar capital return unveiled by Wesfarmers.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged 0.02% higher to 5,158.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged 0.02% higher to 5,141.9 points.

Financials were mostly higher, with the big four banks gaining.

Commonwealth Bank added 0.33% to $73.97, while ANZ Banking Group rose 0.46% to $30.29.

National Australia Bank increased 0.51% to $31.48 and Westpac Banking Corporation grew 0.49% to $31.665.

Investment bank Macquarie Group put on 0.69% to $44.94.

In the insurance sector, QBE dropped 2.34% to $17.08, Insurance Australia Group lost 0.51% to $5.81 and Suncorp inched down 0.12% to $12.445.

Wealth management group AMP rose 4.07% to $4.725 after unveiling a modest lift in first-half profit and appointing Craig Meller as chief executive officer.

Materials took a hit, with the major miners both in the red.

BHP Billiton fell 1.29% to $37.375, while Rio Tinto edged 0.03% lower to $61.91.

Fortescue Metals dropped 0.82% to $4.255.

Whitehaven Coal slipped 0.73% to $2.035 and Newcrest put on 3.35% to $12.34.

In the energy sector, Santos fell 0.71% to $14.01, Oil Search lost 0.86% to $8.10 and Woodside rose 0.5% to $38.41.

In Australia, the market yesterday closed flat after strong earnings reports from major companies failed to hearten investors.

The market was subdued despite market heavyweight Commonwealth Bank posting a record profit of $7.68 billion.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 0.3 points, or 0.01%, to 5157.4 points.

The broader All Ordinaries index shed 0.6 points, or 0.01%, to 5141 points.