Aust stocks lower at noon

Australian stocks are one per cent lower at noon with the big banks driving the market down.

The ASX is headed for its ninth daily fall in 12 trading days, after following Wall Street's downward lead.

The negative sentiment was prompted by reports that Federal Reserve member Esther George had urged the central bank to reduce its stimulus package, creating investor uncertainty about the economy.

Calling the push short-sighted, IG market strategist Evan Lucas said it was good news that the US economy was standing on its own two feet and that consumers were buying there.

"Unfortunately, we've picked up the slack and there is the fact that international investors are dumping those stocks as they return home because the Australian dollar is now below parity," he told AAP.

Locally, the big four retail banks represent four out of the six largest stocks on the ASX and their falls are driving down the overall market.

Mr Lucas said profit taking was another motive for selling bank stocks, following massive gains in the past year.

ANZ was down 5.5 cents at $27.855, CBA had fallen 20 cents to $66.95, NAB was seven cents weaker at $29.54 and Westpac was off 15 cents at $28.80.

The two large supermarket owners were also being punished, with Wesfarmers 49 cents lower at $38.42 and Woolworths down 25 cents at $32.30.

Among the major miners, BHP had fallen eight cents to $34.18, while Rio had slipped six cents to $55.19.

In other news, Billabong shares had recovered a little following Tuesday's plunge when the company lost half its market capitalisation after flagging asset sales to pay down debt as takeover talks collapsed.

The stock was up half a cent, or 2.17 per cent, at 22.5 cents.


* At 1234 AEST on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 50.1 points, or 1.02 per cent, at 4,850.7 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 47.6 points, or 0.97 per cent, at 4,839.1 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was down 43 points at 4,855 points, with 17,864 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 778 million securities worth $1.89 billion.

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