The West

Australian stocks are lower, although falls among the industrials and financial sectors have been offset by gains from gold and metals and minerals companies.

At 10.13am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12.2 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 4317.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 12.4 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 4339.2 points.

On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was 13 points lower at 4323 points, with 10,111 contracts traded.

With little direction from US markets, due to Wall Street being closed for the Labor Day public holiday, the Australian stock market opened flat.

But it turned negative in the morning, led by declines in a couple of big market sectors.

Industrials stocks were down 0.72 per cent, according to IRESS data, while financial companies were down 0.58 per cent.

On a positive note, gold stocks were up 0.83 per cent and the metals and minerals sector had risen 0.82 per cent.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,695.80, up $US9.35 from Monday's closing price of $US1,686.45 per ounce.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the market was focused on the upcoming European Central Bank (ECB) meeting and US jobs data due to be released later this week.

"It just seems like the market is treading water ahead of the two big market event risks later on in the week," Ms Lee said.

"It looks like we are adjusting for yesterday.

"For example, yesterday, the banks were up and the miners were down and today we are just seeing the opposite."

Making news today, miner Fortescue Metals said it was shedding staff and deferring some development work to reduce costs in response to uncertainty created by falling iron ore prices.

Fortescue shares were down six cents, or 1.69 per cent, at $3.50.

Meanwhile, BHP Billiton was 33 cents higher at $31.74 and Rio Tinto was up 99 cents at $50.84.

UGL said it would bring its property services business, UGL Services, under its recently acquired DTZ brand.

The stock was down six cents at $10.46.

National turnover was million 612.9 securities worth $1.4 billion, with 342 stocks up, 411 down and 336 unchanged.

The West Australian

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