Aust stocks flat at noon

Local market little changed despite unemployment rate lifting to four-year high.

The Australian stock market was little changed at noon despite a lift in the unemployment rate as cautious investors consider a possible deal to prevent a military attack on Syria.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched up 0.03% to 5,236.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged 0.04% higher to 5,232.6 points.

The unemployment rate hit a four-year high of 5.8% in August, according to data released this morning by the Australia Bureau of Statistics.

Materials were mixed.

BHP Billiton was flat at $36.33, while Rio Tinto added 0.39% to $64.40.

Fortescue Metals fell 3.02% to $4.655.

Whitehaven Coal lifted 0.23% to $2.215 and Newcrest retreated 2.4% to $12.20.

In the energy sector, Santos added 0.24% to $14.865, Oil Search rose 0.3% to $8.485 and Woodside lifted 0.39% to $38.75.

Financials were mostly lower.

Commonwealth Bank fell 0.36% to $73.87, while ANZ Banking Group fell 0.21% to $30.335.

National Australia Bank inched down 0.09% to $33.82, while Westpac Banking Corporation fell 0.43% to $32.34.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rose 2.39% to $49.71.

In the insurance sector, QBE fell 0.55% to $15.445, Insurance Australia Group slid 0.18% to $5.63 and Suncorp lost 0.31% to $12.79.

The retail sector was mixed.

Wesfarmers was 0.24% higher at $41.32, while Woolworths added 0.93% to $34.69.

Myer fell 2.26% to $2.815 after flagging a challenging year ahead and posting a lower full-year profit, while rival David Jones fell 1.55% to $2.865.

Harvey Norman was flat at $3.18 and JB Hi-Fi lifted 0.8% to $20.16.

In media, Fairfax Media rose 1.3% to 58.25 cents and 21st Century Fox rose 0.52% to $35.10.

Ten Network slid 1.49% to 33 cents.

Southern Cross Media added 2.72% to $1.885, while Seven West fell 0.59% to $2.535.

Meanwhile, Qantas added 1.78% to $1.43, while Telstra rose 0.83% to $4.87.

Meanwhile, Caltex Australia chief executive Julian Segal is scheduled to speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia function in Sydney.

In Australia, the market yesterday hit a five-year closing high as investors are inspired by China's economic growth.

Positive economic data out of China, strong Australian consumer sentiment and the likelihood of a non-violent outcome in Syria all contributed to a fourth straight day of gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.2 points, or 0.64%, to 5,234.4.

The broader All Ordinaries index gained 31.7 points, or 0.61%, to 5,230.6.

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