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Australian stocks slightly lower at noon, S&P 200 dips 3.50pts

Australian stocks slightly lower at noon, S&P 200 dips 3.50pts

PERTH: Australian stock market is marginally lower on Thursday with stocks swinging between gains and losses amid cautious trades.

A flat close on Wall Street overnight, lower oil prices and concerns about Greece appear to be prompting investors to refrain from significant moves.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 3.50 points or 0.06 percent to 5,765.60, after rising to 5,790.50 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 1.20 points or 0.02 percent to 5,730.50.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton (BHP) is edging up 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto (RIO) is advancing more than 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.8 percent. Rio Tinto is slated to report its earnings results later in the session.

Meanwhile, gold miner Newcrest Mining is lower by 1.5 percent following the weakness in gold prices, while aluminum producer Alumina is losing 0.6 percent.

Oz Minerals extended losses from Wednesday and is down 4.5 percent after the copper and gold miner reported a profit for the full year, but did not declare a final dividend and suspended its plans to sell a stake in the key Carrapateena copper and gold project.

Among banks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.9 percent. Meanwhile, ANZ Banking is higher by 0.2 percent.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is declining more than 1 percent, Oil Search is lower by 0.2 percent and Santos is losing almost 2 percent following the decline in crude oil prices. In addition, Santos said it will take a charge of A$1.6 billion after writing down the value of its assets amid sliding oil prices.

Stock market operator ASX Ltd. recorded a 5 percent increase in profit for the first half-year to A$198.6 million and declared a higher interim, fully-franked dividend of 92.3 Australian cents. However, the company’s shares are lower by 1 percent.

Telecom operator Telstra Corp. reported a 22 percent increase in first-half profit to more than A$2 billion and increased its fully-franked interim dividend. Shares of the company are edging up 0.3 percent.