Aust share market closes lower

The Australian share market closed lower, hurt by falls across financial and retail stocks after a strong three-week run on the market.

Bucking gains on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.32 per cent lower Monday as investors banked some profits.

"I think this week is just going to be one of consolidation, and we've seen a few strong weeks now on the market, especially with some of the financial and mining companies," Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said.

There aren't many drivers this week heading into the Easter four-day long weekend, Ms Lee noted.

"It's quiet on the corporate news front, there's no major economic news out here domestically." she added, noting that the US GDP figures will be out on Friday.

Australia's four biggest banks all finished in negative territory, with the Commonwealth Bank down $1.02 to $77.14.

ANZ dropped 18 cents to $25.87, National Australia Bank fell 17 cents to $28.19 and Westpac dipped 16 cents to $32.52.

Investment bank Macquarie Group fell 72 cents to $67.57.

Retail heavyweights, Woolworths and Wesfarmers, also dropped 33 cents to $21.87 and 19 cents to $41.57, respectively.

Mining giant Rio Tinto fell five cents to $44.10, while rival BHP Billiton gained seven cents to $18.17.

Virgin Australia closed three cents higher at 38 cents as the airline secured a $425 million loan from its four major shareholders, giving management some breathing space to fix its balance sheet.

Biotechnology company CSL jumped 40 cents to $100.50.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 16.5 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 5,166.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 14.4 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 5,224.9 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was up three points at 5,167 points, with 24,131 contracts traded.

* The price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1246.00 per fine ounce, down $US16.70 on Friday's price of $US1,262.70.

* National turnover was 1.78 billion securities traded, worth $3.37 billion.

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