Negative economic data weighed on the Australian share market today, with stocks falling more than 0.25 per cent.
The All Ordinaries index fell 13 points to close at 4,929 and the ASX 200 index lost 14 points to 4,908.
The mining and staples sectors held their own to prevent a bigger fall for the market, along with gains for telecom and IT companies.
Rio Tinto ended the session 1.2 per cent higher, but rival BHP Billiton fell 0.3 per cent.
Construction materials firm Boral lost 0.6 per cent while Bluescope Steel rose 1.2 per cent.
Telstra rose 0.2 per cent to almost single-handedly keep its sector out of the red.
Woolworths gained 0.6 per cent, offsetting 0.5 per cent loss for Coles parent company Wesfarmers.
The finance sector suffered the heaviest losses, including pain for most of the big four banks.
Westpac fell 1.3 per cent, ANZ lost 0.7 per cent and the Commonwealth slipped 0.5 per cent.
NAB bucked the trend to finish 0.2 per cent higher.
Among the domestic economic data that disheartened investors was official figures showing a slow-down for the housing construction sector.
Home construction in seasonally adjusted terms, surprising economists who had been expecting modest growth of 1 per cent.
The , hinting at a further rise in the jobless rate by recording a 0.9 per cent fall in advertised positions in January.
Despite that, most economists expect the Reserve Bank to keep the official interest rate at 3 per cent when the RBA board meets tomorrow.
Around 5.00pm AEDT West Texas intermediate crude oil was worth around $US97.77 a barrel, Tapis crude was selling for about $US121.95 a barrel and spot gold was at $US1,671 an ounce.
At the same time, the Australian dollar was buying around 104.36 US cents, 76.59 euro cents, 66.47 British pence, 96.69 Japanese yen and 123.35 New Zealand cents.