The Australian share market ran out of steam in afternoon trade, as investors elected to pull back their positions ahead of Chinese data due out after the bell. Despite rallying in early trade, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) finished the session down 2.2 points to 5146.2.
After the bell China released data on retail sales and production. Industrial production rose 10 per cent in November, in line with forecasts, while retail sales were slightly higher for the year to November, up 13.7 per cent.
In company news, insurer QBE (QBE) continued to be under selling pressure a day after forecasting an annual loss of around $250 million due to its underperforming North American business. QBE shares fell a further 9.8 per cent to day to close at $10.82.
Qantas (QAN) shares closed at an all time low of 96.5c.
Brambles (BXB) spun off its US based information and document management division Recall Holdings (REC) today into a separate listed company. BXB shares fell 4.5 per cent to $8.86 on the spin-off while REC closed at $4.50.
Another debut was Hotel Property Investments (HPI) - a portfolio of Coles operated pubs and bottle shops located in Queensland. The $279 million float offered shares at $2.10. HPI closed down 1.4 per cent today to $2.07.
Business conditions are at a 15 month high according to the latest survey. The NAB business confidence index eased from +6.1 to +5.3 in November. The business conditions index improved from minus 3.6 points to a 15-month high of minus 2.7 points. The survey was conducted from November 25 to 29.
On the market overall, a total of 1.99 billion shares changed hands, worth $5.5 billion. 409 were up, 534 were down and 327 were unchanged.
At 4.30pm AEST the SFE 200 Futures Index at 5147, up 4 points.
Ahead tonight, weekly chain store sales data is issued in the US.
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