Aust stocks lower at noon

The domestic retreated in morning trade although losses narrowed.

The Australian stock market has fallen at noon but narrowed morning losses after Wall Street gave up most of the gains made after the Federal Reserve decided not to taper its stimulus program.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.44 per cent to 5,253.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index slid 0.47 per cent to 5,246 points.

Activity in China's manufacturing sector expanded to a six-month high, according to the HSBC flash China manufacturing purchasing managers' index for September.

IG market strategist Evan Lucas said the local market would be impacted by global events such as uncertainty in the United States over debt ceiling negotiations, as well as the results of the German election.

Materials were mostly lower.

BHP Billiton fell 0.8 per cent to $36.10, while Rio Tinto was 0.64 per cent lower at $62.51.

Fortescue Metals dropped 0.22 per cent to $4.55.

Whitehaven Coal was 1.25 per cent higher at $2.025 while Newcrest lost 6.64 per cent to $12.23.

In the energy sector, Santos fell 0.66 per cent to $14.95, Oil Search fell 1.45 per cent to $8.505 and Woodside declined one per cent to $38.53.

Financials were mixed.

Commonwealth Bank retreated 0.19 per cent to $73.61, while ANZ Banking Group rose 0.29 per cent to $31.18.

National Australia Bank inched up 0.06 per cent to $34.88 and Westpac Banking Corporation rose 0.49 per cent to $32.91.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 0.74 per cent to $49.63.

In the insurance sector, QBE rose 0.68 per cent to $14.85, Insurance Australia Group inched down 0.09 per cent to $5.855 and Suncorp dropped 1.02 per cent to $13.085.

The retail sector was also mixed.

Wesfarmers fell 0.79 per cent to $41.18, while Woolworths lost 1.23 per cent to $34.59.

Myer rose 0.36 per cent to $2.79 and rival David Jones retreated 0.34 per cent to $2.90.

Harvey Norman lifted 1.23 per cent to $3.30 while JB Hi-Fi rallied 2.28 per cent to $20.20.

In media, Fairfax Media fell 2.68 per cent to 54.5 cents, 21st Century Fox rose 0.63 per cent to $35.02 and News Corp fell 2.61 per cent to $17.57.

Ten Network fell 1.67 per cent to 29.5 cents and Southern Cross Media dropped 0.27 per cent to $1.82, while Seven West fell 0.4 per cent to $2.52.

Blue chip Qantas fell 0.67 per cent to $1.49, while Telstra lost 0.5 per cent to $4.935.

No major economic or equities news is expected.

In Australia, the market on Friday closed weaker, with traders unwilling to push stock prices beyond the five-year-plus highs they hit during the week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 18.8 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 5,276.7.

The broader All Ordinaries index was down 17.8 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5,270.8.

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