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Aust stocks close weaker with no direction

Australian stocks finished slightly weaker on Thursday, with the market lacking direction despite an unexpected fall in Australia's unemployment rate.

At the close on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 11.1 points, or 0.25 per cent, lower at 4,509.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 12.3 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 4,515.7.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 13 points lower at 4,512, with 22,534 contracts traded.

IG Markets analyst Chris Weston said the local market had been weak before the jobs figures on Thursday.

"It hasn't really changed the landscape at all," he said.

"We've seen a pretty weak market. Wall Street didn't provide us with much of a backbone to go on."

But he said there were some positive signs in the US with President Barak Obama saying a resolution to the world's biggest economy's economic woes could be found within a week.

The European Central Bank (ECB) could also downgrade its guidance.

Locally, economists said an unexpected fall in Australia's unemployment rate was a sign the economy is holding up quite well.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 82.71 points to close at 13,034.49.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies closed up 0.39 per cent to 5,892.08 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.26 per cent to 7,454.55 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 climbed 0.28 per cent to 3,590.50 points.

Local banking shares all finished weaker on Thursday.

Commonwealth Bank shed 72 cents to hit $60.36, while Westpac fell 11 cents to $25.47 and ANZ slipped five cents to $24.72.

NAB fell six cents to $24.25.

The big miners were stronger, with BHP up 12 cents at $34.41 and Rio Tinto 57 cents higher at $59.92.

Meanwhile, shares in troubled broadcaster Ten Network remain in a trading halt as it announced an extra $35 million in cost cuts and a $230 million capital raising venture in response to its recent poor performance.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1688.65 per fine ounce, down $US13.50 from Wednesday's local close of $US1702.15 per ounce.

National turnover was 1.3 billion securities worth $3.7 billion, with 415 stocks up, 488 down and 351 unchanged.