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Banks, retailers push ASX lower

The Australian share market has closed lower, hurt by banks, health care and consumer-exposed stocks, including Woolworths and Wesfarmers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 18.2 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 6,247.6 on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 13.5 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,341.7 points.

IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said there was lack of news to extend Tuesday's 0.61 per cent gain.

"We lacked a lot of buying impetus, we didn't get much excitement out of data through the inflation figures," Mr Rodda said.

"Almost a case of nothing to see here, and no reason to really push the ASX higher."

The consumer price index rose 0.4 per cent in the three months to June, just short of market expectations of a 0.5 per cent rise, taking the annual headline rate to 2.1 per cent.

The nation's big four banks all closed lower, amid future funding concerns, Mr Rodda said.

Westpac dropped 1.0 per cent to $29.26, Commonwealth Bank fell 0.5 per cent to $74.76, ANZ slipped 0.3 per cent to $29.12 and National Australia Bank lost 0.25 per cent to $28.13.

Retail giants Woolworths and Wesfarmers also gave up some of their recent gains, finishing 2.5 per cent lower to $30.20 and 1.0 per cent to $48.97, respectively.

Hearing implant maker Cochlear slumped 2.1 per cent to $204.04 and biotechnology giant CSL fell 1.7 per cent to $199.07.

Bucking the broader market was the materials sector, thanks to China's recent stimulus news, Mr Rodda said.

China on Monday promised fiscal action to support the world's second-largest economy, which has buoyed global materials stocks around the world.

BHP Billiton jumped 2.2 per cent to $33.75 and Rio Tinto rose 1.5 per cent to $82.10.

The Australian dollar came under some pressure following slightly disappointing second-quarter inflation figures on Wednesday.

The Aussie was trading at 74.05 US cents at 1700 AEST on Wednesday, up from 73.62 US cents on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 18.2 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 6,247.6 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 13.5 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,341.7 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up nine points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,191 points at 1630 AEST.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 74.05 US cents, from 73.62 US cents on Tuesday

* 82.31 Japanese yen, from 81.99

* 63.31 euro cents, from 63.15

* 56.22 British pence, from 56.31

* 108.79 NZ cents, from 108.73

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,227.53 per fine ounce, up from $US1,219.25 per fine ounce on Tuesday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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