Aust shares close lower
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The Australian share market closed lower amid profit taking on Friday and mixed messages about economic data out of Asia.
At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 13.5 points, or 0.28 per cent lower at 4,709.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 11.4 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 4,733.8.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 11 points lower at 4,681, with 25,099 contracts traded.
IG Markets market strategist Evan Lucas said sentiment had turned negative following Chinese data showing that inflation was at a relatively low 2.6 per cent for 2012, but had increased in December indicating no stimulation is likely soon.
However that was offset by Japan's premier Shinzo Abe unveiling a $US226.5 billion ($A214.68 billion) stimulus package.
"That helped our market move off its lows and it ramped up," Mr Lucas told AAP.
"But we had some profits locked in, weighing on the mining sector, despite the iron ore price still sitting at $US158 a tonne."
"It was a bit of a mixed market despite strong leads from the US ... a lot of people are watching what will happen with corporate earnings week there."
The mining giants continued to fall.
BHP Billiton led the falls, losing 73 cents, or 1.95 per cent, to $36.68, Fortescue fell 12 cents, or 2.47 per cent, to $4.73 and Rio Tinto tumbled $1.30, or 1.9 per cent, to $65.80.
The four major banks were mixed.
ANZ gained 10 cents to $25.25, National Australia Bank jumped 14 cents to $25.57, Westpac lost two cents to $26.58 and Commonwealth Bank dived 23 cents to $61.38.
The spot price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1,672.72 per fine ounce, up $US14.34 from Thursday's local close of $US1,658.38.
National turnover was 1.44 billion shares worth $3.14 billion, with 492 stocks up, 402 down and 373 unchanged.