The share market's rise to its highest level in nearly a decade has stalled as investors sold off National Australia Bank shares despite the bank's profit growth.
Weakness among other big banks and Telstra also countered gains by major energy and mining companies.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 6.1 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,931.7 points at 1630 AEDT.
Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the market was almost certain to fall with a market heavyweight such as NAB losing ground, along with other big banks and Telstra.
"If NAB had been a little bit better, we would have been well into positive territory," Mr Heffernan said.
NAB dropped 2.8 per cent to $31.95 despite its 2.5 per cent lift in annual cash profit to $6.64 billion, as the lender's expenses increased and it flagged one-off restructuring costs of between $500 million and $800 million in the first half of its current fiscal year.
The bank also outlined plans to cut 4,000 jobs over the next three years.
ANZ fell 0.8 per cent to $29.83, Westpac shed 0.6 per cent to $33.00, Commonwealth Bank was 0.3 per cent weaker at $77.41, while Bank of Queensland dropped six per cent to $12.46.
Telstra dropped 1.7 per cent to $3.51 as chief executive Andrew Penn told investors that wholesale prices on the NBN made for slim margins for retailers.
A bounce in iron ore prices boosted the iron ore miners, with BHP Billiton rising 1.5 per cent to $27.35, Rio Tinto adding 3.3 per cent to $72.34, and Fortescue Metals jumping 4.1 per cent to $4.87.
Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum improved 1.1 per cent to $31.45 and Oil Search gained 1.5 per cent to $7.27.
Building materials supplier Boral surged 3.8 per cent to $7.40 after it said it expects better-than-anticipated earnings growth from its Australian business for the full year in the wake of strong construction activity in NSW and Queensland.
The Australian dollar rose back above 77 US cents after better- than-expected trade and housing data.
Australia's trade surplus rose to $1.75 billion in September as exports rose three per cent, while building approvals rose 1.5 per cent in September, beating market expectations of a 1.0 per cent fall.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 6.1 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,931.7 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.3 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6,002.2 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 10 points, or 0.17 per cent ,at 5,919 points.
* National turnover was 4.5 billion securities traded worth $6.4 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.12 US cents, from 76.62 US cents on Wednesday
* 87.85 Japanese yen, from 87.29 yen
* 66.17 euro cents, from 65.88 euro cents
* 58.04 British pence, from 57.72 pence
* 111.39 NZ cents, from 111.05 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,278.25 per fine ounce, from $US1,272.27 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8849pct, from 1.9101pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6072pct, from 2.6555pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.325 (implying a yield of 2.675pct), from 97.275 (2.725pct) on Wednesday
* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.0 (2.0pct), from 97.97 (2.03pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)