Stocks ease despite retail suprise

Stocks sagged in thin trading despite better than expected retail sales figures

The Australian stock market has reversed early gains to close lower despite an unexpected boost to retail sales.

At the official market close of 1615 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 0.38 per cent lower at 5,390.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 0.41 per cent lower at 5384.2 points.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said trading volumes were "pathetic" as the market wound down ahead of the Melbourne Cup, despite a plethora of data and a solid result from Westpac Banking Corporation Ltd.

"The ASX 200 is ... finding no support from Westpac, who delivered an in-line result, although the underlying quality was not brilliant," he said.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail sales rose more than expected September, while house prices for the September quarter also rose.

The ANZ job advertisements series showed job ads were stable in October, while the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge showed inflation rose 0.1 per cent in October.