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Miners and banks drag ASX under

The Australian share market has closed lower, dragged down by mining and banking stocks after commodity prices weakened and the royal commission's interim report looms.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 11.1 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6181.2 points on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 8.5 points, or 0.13 per cent, lower at 6299.3 points.

The ASX200 traded in a tight 18-point range all day.

The financial sector has closed lower for the fourth consecutive day as the first findings from the banking royal commission is expected on Friday.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the banks will be particularly impacted by the findings related to financial advice.

"It comes at a time when we are seeing a weaker outlook for the sector with lending slowing, competition increasing and expenses rising because of compliance and regulatory concerns," she said.

Westpac shares lost the most ground, down 0.7 per cent to $27.61, while Commonwealth Bank suffered the least, down 0.1 per cent to $70.08.

The materials sector was down 0.3 per cent after copper, gold and iron ore prices all fell on Wednesday night.

Rio Tinto slipped one per cent, to $79.23, while gold miners Newcrest and Northern Star were down 1.4 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

Oil prices eased, too, after US data showed a surprise build in domestic crude inventories - Brent crude fell 53 cents overnight to settle at $US81.34 a barrel.

But this did little to dampen the energy stocks buoyed by Santos and Beach Energy announcing aggressive growth strategies.

Santos announced on Wednesday it wants to nearly double natural gas production to more than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2025.

And Beach Energy shares shot to a more than 30-year high on Thursday after saying it plans to double production in the next five years.

Its shares closed 7.5 per cent higher at $2.14.

A consortium led by Transurban finalised its purchase of a 51 per cent stake in Sydney's Westconnex motorway.

The toll road company's shares were higher after the announcement but slipped later, closing 0.7 per cent lower at $11.12.

The Australian dollar was barely affected by official data revealing total job vacancies rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent to a record 238,200 in the three months to August.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.26 US cents, from 72.61 US cents on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The S&P/ASX200 was down 11.1 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6181.2 points

* The All Ordinaries was 8.5 points, or 0.13 per cent, lower at 6299.3 points

* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was down 12 point, or 0.19 per cent, at 6169.0 points at 1630 AEST.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.26 US cents, from 72.61 US cents on Wednesday.

* 81.41 Japanese yen, from 81.93

* 61.78 euro cents, from 61.72

* 55.02 British pence, from 55.10

* 108.89 NZ cents, from 108.96

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEST was $US1,194.73 per fine ounce, from $US1,200.18 on Wednesday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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