Aust stocks close out week flat

By a staff reporter

The Australian stock market closed the week flat on the back of unimpressive showings on international bourses after news the eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of last year.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index slipped 0.06 per cent at 5,033.9 points, and the broader All Ordinaries index lost 0.05 per cent to 5,054.6 points.

IG analyst Stan Shamu said the market absorbed earnings results from ANZ and Rio Tinto during the session.

"The results were actually not that bad, however, the market has concentrated on some small misses," he said.

Resources stocks pulled back from a recent run of gains, to be mostly lower at the close.

BHP Billiton fell 0.77 per cent to $38.655, while Rio Tinto fell 2.26 per cent to $70.15.

Rio posted its first full-year net loss in 2012, on the back of last month's $US14 billion write-down of its aluminium assets and a coal project in Mozambique.

Fortescue Metals Group lost 2.97 per cent to $5.23.

Whitehaven Coal slid 0.61 per cent to $3.24.

Newcrest Mining fell 1.11 per cent to $23.10.

In crude, Woodside Petroleum inclined 1.4 per cent to $36.90.

Santos added 0.08 per cent to $12.46 and Oil Search rose 0.13 per cent to $7.45.

Financial stocks were relatively strong despite a continued dip from ANZ Banking Group after the lender reiterated its guidance after posting a rise in cash profit during the first quarter in line with its own expectations.

ANZ lost 1.03 per cent to $27.77, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.19 per cent to $67.03.

National Australia Bank added 0.55 per cent to $29.51, while Westpac Bank Corporation lifted 1.36 per cent to $28.945.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 0.79 per cent to $37.80.

In insurance, Insurance Australia Group rose 0.58 per cent to $5.19.

QBE rose 1.5 per cent to $13.55, while Suncorp Group lifted 1.72 to $11.21.

In retail, Wesfarmers was 1.72 per cent higher at $39.55, while rival Woolworths slipped 0.06 per cent to $32.90.

David Jones rose 0.75 per cent to $2.69, while rival Myer inclined 0.75 per cent to $2.67.

Harvey Norman was flat at $2.29, while JB Hi-Fi lost 2.28 per cent to $12.41.

In media, Ten Network was flat at 30 cents, while Seven West rose 1.23 per cent to $2.47.

News Corp added 0.5 per cent to $27.89, while rival Fairfax Media lost 2.73 per cent to 53.5 cents.

Blue chip Telstra edged down 0.22 per cent to $4.63 and Qantas was flat at $1.625.

Paladin Energy sank 0.82 per cent to $1.21, after widening its loss in the first half.

Sims Metal Management lost one per cent to $10.85, after confirming it will write down the value of inventory at its British operations after uncovering a possible case of fraud.

Charter Hall Retail rose 0.52 per cent to $3.88, after swinging to a full-year profit.

Pharmaxis lost 2.34 per cent to 62.5 cents, on news the group slightly widened its loss in the first half despite recording a solid lift in interim revenue.

Duet Group added 2.35 per cent to $2.18, after swinging to an interim loss.

The local market finished the previous session above the 5,000-point mark, boosted by encouraging company earnings reports.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 33.2 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 5,036.9 points, and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 32.7 points, or 0.65 per cent, at 5,057.2 points.

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