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Aust stocks close lower on US falls

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AAP

2012-11-08

The Australian share market closed 0.7 per cent lower on Thursday following steep falls on Wall Street.

At the close on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 32.7 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 4,483.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 32 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 4,502.2.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 19 points lower at 4,477, with 23,949 contracts traded.

Wall Street tumbled more than two per cent and posted its largest daily fall in almost a year after Fitch Ratings warned that the US would lose its AAA credit rating if the government failed to address looming tax increases, spending cuts and the fast approaching debt ceiling.

CMC Markets analyst David Land said the Australian share market performed well considering the significant decline in the US overnight.

"On a like-for-like basis, we've done particularly well," Mr Land said.

"The market is probably viewing this as a temporary fluctuation, more than a shift in the market."

Locally, BHP Billiton dropped 31 cents to $34.67, Rio Tinto dived 65 cents to $59.35 and Fortescue lost 11 cents to $3.94.

ANZ dropped $1.14, or 4.5 per cent, to $24.37 after it went ex-dividend, Westpac gained seven cents to $25.93, National Australia Bank fell 12 cents to $24.87 and Commonwealth Bank gained 38 cents $58.18.

Maintenance service group Transfield Services gained two cents to $1.59 after it won a $200 million five-year contract to provide maintenance and operations services to QGC's Queensland coal seam gas assets.

Western Australian rare earths miner Lynas Corporation was up 8.5 cents at 80.5 cents after Malaysian activists lost a court battle to halt the company from firing up a rare earths plant in that country that has sparked health and safety concerns.

Qantas shares fell two cents to $1.28 after news that about 150 employee and 250 contractor positions will be made redundant as part of changes to the airline's engineering operations.

New Zealand listed online accounting software group joined the Australian exchange on Thursday, and closed unchanged at $4.48.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1,718.86 per fine ounce, down $US5.09 from $US1,723.95 on Wednesday.

National turnover was 1.68 billion securities worth $5.41 billion, with 328 stocks up, 583 down and 376 unchanged.

Kim Christian