Aust stocks flat at noon

Local market pares modest early gains after weaker than expected retail sales.

The Australian stock market pared modest early gains to sit almost flat at noon as local data showed retail sales lifted less than expected in July.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched up 0.15% to 5,196 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged 0.19% higher to 5,187.6 points.

IG analyst Evan Lucas said despite the looming election, the local market is more likely to react to global leads such as the Syrian conflict and tapering moves from the United States Federal Reserve.

"Whatever happens this Saturday it is unlikely that Monday morning will see a scorch earth or grass is greener moment," Mr Lucas said.

Materials were mostly higher.

BHP Billiton rose 1.02% to $35.985, while Rio Tinto added 2.72% to $60.83.

Fortescue Metals added 4.73% to $4.535.

Whitehaven Coal lifted 0.5% to $2.02 and Newcrest fell 0.6% to $13.17.