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Energy, resource stocks hit Aust market

Energy and resource heavyweights Woodside Petroleum, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have dragged the Australian share market lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.33 per cent at 1209 AEDT, bucking gains across major equity markets in the US, Europe and Asia late last week.

The energy sector is hardest hit, down about two per cent following a near-four per cent fall in oil prices and worries about the outcome of the long-awaited OPEC meeting on Wednesday.

Energy stocks gained about five per cent last week on the back of higher oil prices and hopes that oil production will be cut.

Woodside Petroleum dropped 79 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $30.31, with Oil Search down 17.5 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $6.76 and Origin Energy losing 7.5 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $5.99.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were the biggest fallers among the resource space, down 55 cents to $25.95 and 31 cents to $61.45, respectively.

The nation's big four banks were also trading in negative territory, with Commonwealth Bank dropping 34 cents to $77.83, ANZ down 36 cents to $27.92, National Australia Bank falling 31 cents to $28.70 and Westpac losing 29 cents to $31.24.

Bucking the broader market was Metcash, which rose 13 cents, or 6.6 per cent, to $2.10, despite the independent supermarket supplier posting a sharp drop in interim profit due to intense competition.

The group flagged that it expects to resume dividend payments in 2017/18.


* At 1209 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 18 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 5,489.8 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 13.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 5,557 points.

* The December share price index futures contract was down 18 points at 5,496 points, with 11,177 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 1.3 billion securities traded, worth $1.6 billion.