Shares ease on China factory data

The local market snapped a four day winning streak, as investors trimmed positions ahead of key meetings of the US and European Central Banks tonight and tomorrow.  Weak Chinese factory data, a key consumer of Australian resources, also had stocks easing.

The falls were only modest though: the All Ordinaries index lost just 6 points, closing at 4,283; and the ASX 200 also gave up 6 points to finish at 4,263.  China's official data on factory output fell to an eight-month low of 50.1 in July, suggesting the sector is barely growing.

That left the big miners mixed: Rio Tinto added 0.6 per cent; but BHP Billiton fell 0.7 per cent, with investors spooked by comments from the company that it is focusing on cutting costs only three weeks out from its full-year results.

Western Australian iron ore miner Fortescue added 0.5 per cent.

The banks also ended mixed - of the big four Commonwealth led the falls, while NAB went the other way leading the gains adding 0.5 per cent.

Farm chemical company Nufarm agreed to pay $43.5 million to settle a legal argument with shareholders.

They launched action on the belief Nufarm failed to disclose key weaknesses in the business to the market during 2009 and 2010.

Nufarm shares fell 1.7 per cent to $5.38.

Currencies and commodities The Australian dollar has hit at a five-month high, buying 105.2 US cents around 5:15pm (AEST).

It was also higher against the other major currencies at 67 British pence, 8.4 euro cents and 82.3 Japanese yen.  West Texas crude oil was worth around $US88 a barrel, while Tapis was off slightly at $US109.80 a barrel.

The spot gold price was $US1,617 an ounce.

Market Data

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