Australia Markets open in 3 hrs 37 mins

Aust share market closes 0.3% lower

The Australian share market closed lower as the global picture became more uncertain following negative leads from Europe and the United States.

At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12.4 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 4,336.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 10.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 4,360.1.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was two points lower at 4,349, with 21,760 contracts traded.

BBY Ltd client adviser Henry Jennings said several overseas factors had led to weakness on the local market.

"Everyone is now focusing on the US fiscal cliff, coupled with problems in Europe," Mr Jennings said.

"We've also got this escalation in the Gaza Strip, with rockets fired at Tel Aviv which is never a good thing for markets.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty out there. Confidence is low and volumes are reflecting that."

An election in Japan and a number of local stock-specific issues had also led to weakness.

On Wall Street on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.49 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 12,542.46 points, pulled down in part by Walmart's disappointing earnings.

Europe's main stock markets retreated after news that the 17-nation eurozone economy fell into recession in the third quarter as a result of the region's sovereign debt crisis.

Among local financial stocks, ANZ shed 39 cents to $23.66, Westpac fell 22 cents to $24.42, Commonwealth Bank had reversed 41 cents to $58.28, while National Australia Bank fell three cents to $23.20.

In the resources sector, mining giant BHP Billiton had lost 19 cents to $32.93, and Rio Tinto had gained eight cents to $56.90.

Iluka fell 12 cents to $7.79 following downgrades by brokers this week.

Clothing and camping equipment retailer Kathmandu rose six cents to $1.41 after it posted a 19.5 per cent boost in sales for the last 15 weeks.

Cash Converters shares gained one cent to 99 cents after the company said it expected to increase its short-term lending this financial year as smaller providers leave the industry due to regulatory changes.

The Sydney gold price was $US1,713.90, down 11.45 from $US1,725.35, on Thursday.

National turnover was 1.6 billion stocks worth $3.4 billion, with 438 stocks up, 483 down and 380 unchanged.