Aust stocks open flat

By a staff reporter

The Australian stock market opened flat despite gains on most international markets overnight with cautious traders considering a possible deal aimed at preventing a United States-led military attack on Syria.

At 1015 AEST official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched up 0.02 per cent to 5,235.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged 0.02 per cent higher to 5,231.6 points.

IG analyst Evan Lucas said recent strong sentiment numbers could be trumped today if the unemployment rate rises.

"Australian consumer confidence has shot off post the federal election, business confidence is in the same boat while business conditions have a little ways to go to catch up to the herd," Mr Lucas said.

"There is a feeling that when we hit the year-to-date high of 5,249.6 the market will be at a crossroads.

"We are due for a pullback after such a strong run."

Materials were mixed.

BHP Billiton rose 0.14 per cent to $36.38, while Rio Tinto added 0.27 per cent to $64.32.

Fortescue Metals fell 1.25 per cent to $4.74.

Whitehaven Coal lifted 0.23 per cent to $2.215 and Newcrest retreated 1.16 per cent to $12.355.

In the energy sector, Santos inched up 0.07 per cent to $14.84, Oil Search slipped 0.24 per cent to $8.44 and Woodside was flat at $38.60.

Financials were mixed.

Commonwealth Bank added 0.18 per cent to $74.27, while ANZ Banking Group fell 0.2 per cent to $30.34.

National Australia Bank added 0.12 per cent to $33.89, while Westpac Banking Corporation inched up 0.06 per cent to $32.50.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rose 0.89 per cent to $48.98.

In the insurance sector, QBE fell 0.32 per cent to $15.48, Insurance Australia Group was flat at $5.64 and Suncorp fell 0.55 per cent to $12.76.

The retail sector was 

Wesfarmers was 0.05 per cent higher at $41.24, while Woolworths added 0.47 per cent to $34.53.

Myer fell 3.3 per cent to $2.785 after flagging a challenging year ahead and posting a lower full-year profit, while rival David Jones fell 1.72 per cent to $2.86.

Harvey Norman was flat at $3.18 and JB Hi-Fi fell 0.65 per cent to $19.87.

In media, Fairfax Media rose 0.43 per cent to 57.75 cents and 21st Century Fox fell 0.26 per cent to $34.83.

Ten Network slid 0.75 per cent to 33.25 cents.

Southern Cross Media added 1.36 per cent to $1.86, while Seven West was flat at $2.55.

Meanwhile, Qantas added 1.78 per cent to $1.43, while Telstra fell 0.31 per cent to $4.845.

In economic news, the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases labour force data for August.

In equities news, Myer Holdings posts full year results and Sigma Pharmaceuticals first half results.

Meanwhile, Caltex Australia chief executive Julian Segal is scheduled to speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia function in Sydney.

In Australia, the market yesterday hit a five-year closing high as investors are inspired by China's economic growth.

Positive economic data out of China, strong Australian consumer sentiment and the likelihood of a non-violent outcome in Syria all contributed to a fourth straight day of gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.2 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 5,234.4.

The broader All Ordinaries index gained 31.7 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 5,230.6.