The West

The Australian stockmarket has fallen, as weak leads from offshore prompted investors to offload resources-related companies in quiet trading conditions.

At 10.15am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 18.3 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 4354.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 18.3 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 4377.2 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 24 points lower at 4361 points, with 10,573 contracts traded.

The local market opened about 0.5 per cent weaker, as market players took their cues from a negative finish on Wall Street.

The Australian bourse tried to claw back some of those losses during the morning, but the rally was not sustained.

Metals and minerals companies were down 1.64 per cent and the worst-performing sector on the local market, according to IRESS data.

Materials stocks (down 1.32 per cent) and financial stocks (down 0.21 per cent) - two big market sectors - were also trading lower at noon.

Bell Potter senior adviser Stuart Smith said the local market was trading in low volumes, with less than $1 billion turnover by value by 9.30am.

"That's really paltry volume," Mr Smith said.

"There has been a bit of switching from the low-dividend payers to the high-dividend payers, in other words sell BHP and buy Commonwealth Bank, this morning."

BHP was down 61 cents, or 1.83 per cent, at $32.64 despite the London Metal Exchange index finishing higher in overnight trade.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank was 12 cents higher at $55.43.

Mr Smith said stocks were trading lower as some market followers feared the US economy was in for a prolonged period of sluggish growth.

"Technically, we have made a little break to the downside, so we will have to see how it winds up at the end of the day."

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,764 per fine ounce, down 36 US cents from Tuesday's local close of $US1,764.36 per ounce

National turnover was 690.5 million securities worth $1.3 billion, with 319 stocks up, 419 down and 317 unchanged.

The West Australian

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