Australia Markets closed

Gold stocks hit as spot prices tumble

Resources stocks are pulling the local share market lower in early trade after metals prices slumped overnight.

At 10:55am (AEDT) the benchmark ASX 200 index was down 0.6 per cent to 4,063 and the All Ordinaries Index was matching that fall at 4,116.

Gold stocks were struggling for a second day after spot gold prices continued to slide overnight.

Gold producer Saracen Mining was seeing the largest falls on the benchmark index, down 4.8 per cent, and Newcrest Mining was off 3.3 per cent.

The major miners also were lower.

Rio Tinto has fallen 0.6 per cent while BHP Billiton has lost 0.8 per cent.

There was little love for retail stocks; Myer was down 0.8 per cent to a record low of $1.94.

Evidence of subdued Christmas and Boxing Day figures has further dampened investor confidence in the department store operator after a series of profit downgrades and poor retail spending this year.

Most other major retailers also were trading lower.

But the big banks were mixed; NAB, Commonwealth and ANZ were all down around 0.5 per cent, while Westpac was up 0.2 per cent, recovering some of yesterday's losses.

The Australian dollar was weakening against its US counterpart but near record highs against the euro.

It was buying 100.9 US cents, 78.6 Japanese yen, 78 euro cents, 65.3 British pence and $NZ1.31.

Commodities were struggling; in Singapore Tapis crude closed at $US117.68 a barrel overnight and West Texas crude oil was buying $US99.64 a barrel.

Spot gold was down to $US1,555.70 an ounce.