Australian stocks are lower mid-session as miners drag down the market and investors hoping for US stimulus measures were left disappointed.
At 10.00am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12.1 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 4128.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 13 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 4162.3.
On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was down 14 points at 4092, with 12,907 contracts traded.
US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke gave a gloomy assessment of the economy to Congress, saying the Fed would act if the situation gets worse.
But the lack of immediate action or detail surrounding further potential stimulus worried local investors, Commsec market analyst Steven Daghlian said.
That was dragging some of the miners lower, despite a strong lead by the financial sector.
"It's a bit of a tug of war taking place between the mining and energy players and the financials, and unfortunately the miners are winning," he said.
BHP Billiton shrank 50 cents, or 1.62 per cent, to $30.29 as investors shrugged off news the mining giant had lifted iron ore production to a record 40.89 million tonnes in the three months to June, and also flagged a five per cent rise in 2013 iron ore production.
Rio Tinto was down $1.54 to $52.90.
Among the financials, Westpac was 15 cents stronger to $22.65, ANZ was 13 cents higher at $23.00, National Australia Bank gained 10.5 cents to $23.80 and Commonwealth Bank was up 58 cents to $55.48.
Among other stocks, ports operator Asciano Ltd was six cents stronger at $4.40 after announcing it is to cut 270 jobs once a $348 million expansion of its container terminal at Sydney's Port Botany is completed in 2014.
Meanwhile, Gerard Lighting Group shares soared 20.5 cents to $1.01 on resumption of trading after it recommended shareholders accept a $A186 million takeover offer from Lighting Group Australia Pty Ltd.
In new local data, Australian economic conditions are at their strongest in 10 months and are expected to improve, presuming the Reserve Bank of Australia further stimulate the economy.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index was at a below-average 1.6 per cent in May, well below its long-term average of 2.6 per cent.
However, Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the growth rate was the fastest since September 2011 and it would improve in the latter half of 2012 and into early 2013.At 10.16am, national turnover was 650 million securities worth $1.2 billion, with 287 stocks up, 372 down and 302 unchanged.
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