Aust share market closes lower
Market watch top headlines
The Australian share market has closed lower as investors took profits after a recent strong upwards run.
Data from China that showed that its manufacturing sector was still contracting, added to the negative tone.
On Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 21.2 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 4,397.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 20.6 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 4,419.8 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 20 points lower at 4,405 points, with 32,434 contracts traded.
Data on Thursday showed that China's manufacturing sector contracted again in September although the slowdown might be stabilising.
A preliminary version of the HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 47.8 for September on a 100-point scale, up slightly from August's 47.6.
Numbers below 50 indicate a contraction.
OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said the Australian market was lower on Thursday after having traded in recent sessions at the top of its 18-month range.
"There a bit of profit-taking going on," Mr Le Brun said.
"The resources, energy amd materials space have been hit hardest after not warming to the manufacturing data out of China.
"All eyes are on China now, on what sort of action they're going to take to bolster these manufacturing and these (economic) growth numbers."
Global miner BHP Billiton was 52 cents lower at $33.70 after it formally withdrew a proposal for an underground coal mine development in central Queensland. Rio Tinto was off $1.22 at $56.58.
Elsewhere in the resources sector, Fortescue Metals was nine cents lower at $3.60 after it agreed to pay $US715 million ($A685.16 million) in royalties to Leucadia National over a legal dispute.
Focus Minerals was off 0.1 cents at 4.3 cents as a miner backed by China's third largest gold company took a $228 million, 51 per cent stake in Focus.
Among other stocks, bricks and masonry supplier Brickworks was five cents poorer at $9.99 after it booked a 70 per cent fall in annual net profit as residential building starts dropped to near 30-year lows.
Luxury accessories retailer OrotonGroup was 16 cents higher at $6.86 as it posted a flat profit for 2011/12 and breaking ties with American fashion house Ralph Lauren.
Retailer Kathmandu firmed one cent to $1.38 despite booking a fall in profit and warning that the current tough climate for retailers was "the new normal".
Billabong dived 10.5 cents, or 7.27 per cent, to $1.34 after the troubled surfwear retailer said one of two private equity firms interested in taking over the group had withdrawn its offer.
Casinos operator Echo sagged 24 cents, or 5.85 per cent, to $3.86 after Genting Singapore decided to sell its stake in Echo.
The price of gold in Sydney was $US1,760.12 per fine ounce, down $US17.51 on Wednesday's closing price of $US1,777.63.
National turnover was 2.11 billion securities worth $6.76 billion, with 506 stocks down, 438 up and 363 unchanged.