Aust stocks head south at midday

The domestic market has bucked the trend and weakened in the morning session.

The Australian stock market was 0.5% lower at noon despite gains on international markets on strong Chinese data and better sentiment on the European economy.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.48% to 5,040.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 0.46% to 5,024.1 points.

Chinese trade data for July showed that exports increased 5.1% year-on-year to $US186.0 billion ($A207 billion), while imports rose 10.9% to $US168.2 billion, revealing some ongoing strength in the Chinese economy.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's comments that the European economy appeared to be stabilising and fresh German trade showed a pickup in exports.

IG analyst Stan Shamu said even though the market is in negative territory, investors will be encouraged by the strong recovery over the past few days.

"Risk assets charged higher overnight after China’s trade balance numbers set the scene for a recovery in sentiment," he said.

Financials dragged on the market.

Commonwealth Bank decreased 0.7% to $72.49, while ANZ Banking Group lost 0.78% to $29.16.

National Australia Bank shed 0.98% to $30.44 and Westpac Banking Corporation declined 0.74% to $30.68.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 1.48% to $43.80.

In the insurance sector, QBE dipped 1.59% to $16.70, Insurance Australia Group fell 0.35% to $5.65 and Suncorp was 1.28% lower at $12.35.

Materials were mixed, with the major miners gaining.

BHP Billiton rose 1.78% to $35.94, while Rio Tinto added 1.5% to $60.375.

Fortescue Metals lifted 4.21% to $3.96.

Whitehaven Coal slipped 0.26% to $1.935 and Newcrest rose 3.83% to $11.65.

In the energy sector, Santos dipped 1.23% to $13.68, Oil Search lost 0.5% to $7.97 and Woodside slipped 0.21% to $38.18.

The retail sector was mostly lower.

Wesfarmers shed 0.71% to $40.72 while Woolworths lost 0.88% to $32.77.

Myer lost 3.17% to $2.595 while rival David Jones fell 3.16% to $2.605.

Harvey Norman shed 1.42% to $2.77 and JB Hi-Fi inched up 0.16% to $18.50.

In Australia, the market yesterday clawed back some of Wednesday's losses due to positive Chinese trade data and a strong profit result from Telstra.

All sectors of the market finished strongly, with the big miners and major banks leading the way.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 53.5 points, or 1.07%, to 5,064.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 50.5 points, or 1.01%, to 5,047.1 points.

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