Aust stocks open slightly lower

Local market edges down despite gains on European markets.

The Australian stock market opened slightly lower, despite gains on European markets following encouraging eurozone data.

At the 1015 AEST official market open, the S&P/ASX200 index edged down 0.21% to 5,024.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 0.24% to 5,009.9 points.

The Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index logged 50.4 points, above the 50-mark signalling growth, and a bigger-than-expected rise, after posting 48.7 points in June.

But the move slightly lower follows falls on Wall Street.

Materials were lower, with the major miners in the red.

Rio Tinto lost 1.07% to $57.06, while BHP Billiton dropped 1.24% to $34.30.

Fortescue Metals lost 1.59% to $3.71.

Whitehaven Coal shed 2.74% higher to $2.13, while Newcrest tumbled 3.39% to $12.26 after reiterating its increased 2014 gold production forecast on full-year output that met its own guidance.

OZ Minerals tumbled 3.88% to $4.46 after lowering full-year production guidance on sharp falls in June quarter gold and copper production.

In energy, Santos lost 1.08% to $13.70, Oil Search edged up 0.25% to $7.97 and Woodside slipped 0.32% to $37.74.

Financials were mixed.

Commonwealth Bank inched 0.03% lower to $72.88, while ANZ Banking Group edged down 0.14% to $28.94.

National Australia Bank increased 0.1% to $30.70, while Westpac Banking Corporation put on 0.13% to $29.79.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 2.73% to $44.47 after saying it remains on track to deliver an improvement in fiscal 2014 earnings.

In the insurance sector, QBE added 0.99% to $16.28, Insurance Australia Group was unchanged at $5.94 and Suncorp slipped 0.35% to $12.645.

The retail sector was also mixed.

Wesfarmers gained 0.65% to $40.22, while Woolworths inched 0.12% higher to $33.58.

Myer lost 0.19% to $2.595 while rival David Jones was unchanged at $2.58.

Harvey Norman shed 0.76% to $2.60 while JB Hi-Fi added 0.35% to $17.29.

In media, Fairfax Media was unchanged at 49 cents, while 21st Century Fox added 0.64% to $33.27.

Ten Network increased 1.89% to 27 cents and Southern Cross Media grew 0.34% to $1.455 while Seven West put on 0.72% to $2.085.

Meanwhile, blue chip Telstra lost 0.1% to $5.005, while Qantas lost 0.38% to $1.295.

Ausenco Ltd plummeted 27.44% to $1.56 after the engineering and construction group flagged lower first-half earnings and warned on its full-year performance.

IG analyst Evan Lucas said the possibility of a market "rest day" is growing.

"Since the June 25 low of 4632, the ASX has not looked back, rising 404 points in exactly a month ( 8.72%)," he said.

"The rapid rise in the market will start to see profit taking, and a possible pull back before the start of the August reporting season."

No major economic news is expected.

The NAB's National Small Business Summit continues in Brisbane.

In Australia, the market on Wednesday finished firmer with resource companies shaking off a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing activity.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.0 points, or 0.36%, at 5035.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 17.2 points, or 0.34%, to 5021.8 points.

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