Aust stocks lower at noon

Local bourse narrows early losses but remains in the red after EU growth downgrade.

The Australian stock market has narrowed earlier losses but remained in the red as international markets digested the European Union's downgraded growth and unemployment forecasts.

At 1205 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.27% to 5,417.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index decreased 0.26% to 5,411.5 points.

The European Union cut its 2014 forecast for the 17-member single currency to 1.1% growth next year, down from the 1.2% it forecast in May, and a 12.2% unemployment rate, up from the previous 12.1%.

Financials were mostly lower.

ANZ slipped 0.18% to $33.73, while Commonwealth Bank put on 1.49% to $78.15, after unveiling a $2.1 billion first-quarter cash profit.

National Australia Bank fell 0.2% to $35.73, and Westpac lost 0.9% to $34.04.

Investment bank Macquarie Group retreated 0.52% to $53.22.

In insurance, IAG was 0.49% lower at $6.16.

Suncorp edged down 0.23% to $13.27, and QBE lost 0.14% at $14.67.

Materials were mostly lower.

BHP Billiton edged down 0.05% to $37.87, while rival Rio Tinto increased 0.68% to $65.14.

Fortescue Metals gained 1.99% to $5.64, while Newcrest lost 0.59% to $10.16.

Whitehaven Coal fell 2.04% to $1.5575.

Oil Search lost 1.11% to $8.465, Santos fell 0.66% to $15.07 and Woodside Petroleum slipped 0.36% to $39.21.

In economic news, Australia narrowed its trade deficit in September more than expected, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

CEDA launched a research report entitled Australia Adjusting: Optimising national prosperity.

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