Australia Markets closed

Aust stocks close flat

Australian stocks have closed flat, with a strong day from the major miners offset by weakness among the banks.

The local market took its cues from a positive finish on Wall Street, opening up about 0.3 per cent, but slid into the close of trade to end the day down about 0.08 per cent.

Friday's close ended a horrible May for the local stock market, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 recording its biggest monthly slide in 12 months.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said the S&P/ASX200 fell about 4.7 per cent in May, the worst monthly performance since the benchmark index tumbled 7.3 per cent in May 2012.

"If you price the index in US dollar terms, the market is down a massive 11.5 per cent," Mr Weston said in a research note.

"In fact, it is the worst performing market of any global index in any G10 currency."

Gold stocks led the market higher on Friday, climbing 1.65 per cent.

The materials sector - which is a big part of the local market - rose 1.17 per cent, while utilities companies were up 1.46 per cent.

BHP ended up 42 cents at $34.88, while Rio added $1.22 to $55.18.

The performance of resources-linked companies helped offset falls from banking stocks.

Three out of the big four banks finished lower, with ANZ bucking the trend having eked out a one cent gain to to $27.54.

CBA settled down 75 cents at $66.86, NAB dropped 32 cents to $29.00 and Westpac eased 42 cents to $28.44.

Telstra finished down three cents at $4.74.

Making news on Friday, agribusiness Elders shares tumbled more than 10 per cent after emerging from a trading halt and reporting a hefty first half loss.

The company posted a net loss of $303.2 million for the six months to March 31, compared with net profit of $47.1 million for the same period a year ago, as poor weather and depressed livestock markets hit the bottom line.

Elders slid 1.5 cents, or 13.04 per cent, to 10 cents.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Craig Walker said trading conditions were quiet as market players waited for Chinese economic data due to be released on Saturday.

"The market seems really to be sitting on its hands ahead of the Chinese manufacturing PMI, which doesn't come out until tomorrow," Mr Walker said.

The HSBC Chinese purchasing managers' index is a closely-watched indicator of manufacturing activity in the emerging economic powerhouse.

The May report was expected to show manufacturing activity was flat in the month.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 4.1 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 4,926.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index closed down 3.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 4,914 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was down nine points at 4,933 points.

* National turnover was 2.2 billion securities worth $9.0 billion.

* The spot price of gold in Sydney finished at $US1,417.35 per fine ounce, up $US9.55 from Thursday's closing price of $US1,407.80 per ounce.