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Market lower on profit taking
The West Australian

The Australian sharemarket was 0.36 per cent lower mid-session as traders locked in profits following weak leads from the US overnight.

At 9.30am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 16.9 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 4723.8 and the broader All Ordinaries index also fell 17.4 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 4744.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 21 points at 4695 with 7775 contracts traded.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Bruce Smith said investors were having a breather and taking cues from the US after the recent rally.

"Definitely traders are taking profits," Mr Smith said.

"That would be the main reason we're down and we're trading at low volumes."

US stocks headed lower on Thursday night, Australian time, after rising strongly on Wednesday on the back of Congress's long-awaited deal to avert the "fiscal cliff".

At the closing bell the Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 21.19 points (0.16 per cent) at 13,391.36.

The US Labor Department will release its non-farm payrolls report for December on Friday night, the key indicator of American employment growth.

Resources companies suffered some of the biggest falls on Friday, with Rio Tinto losing 79 cents to $68.46, BHP Billiton dropped 27 cents to $37.88 and Fortescue Metals was 11.5 cents lower at $4.92.

Construction company Lend Lease moved higher in early trade after announcing a 170 million-pound ($A263 million) contract to construct two building in central London, its shares were up three cents to $8.53.

Macmahon Holdings was up a cent to 29.5 cents after announcing it had received a second bid for its construction company.

National turnover was 579 million shares worth $1.04 billion, with 304 stocks up, 422 down and 307 unchanged.