Australian stocks closed lower for a second consecutive day, dragged down by the banks and a surprisingly poor consumer sentiment report.
The big four banks were trading positively until the release of the Westpac/Melbourne Institute's May survey, showing consumer sentiment fell by 7.0 per cent in the month.
IG market strategist Chris Weston said the data showed the Australian consumer was not in a good space, despite the recent official rate cut.
"Looking at the breakdown, there was a 13.4 per cent decline in where consumers see the economy in one year ahead, while there was also a 3.9 per cent drop in current conditions," he said.
Among the banks, ANZ fell 1.15 per cent or 34 cents, to $29.30, Westpac shed 29 cents to $31.19, Commonwealth Bank lost 78 cents to $71.70 and National Australia Bank dipped 38 cents to $32.71.
Materials stocks rose, with traders anticipating a speech by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that will support more moves to stimulate economic activity.
Mining stocks were buoyant, with BHP Billiton gaining 44 cents to $35.27 and Rio Tinto adding $1.00 to $56.30.
In other news, Seven West Media announced private equity firm KKR had sold its 12 per cent stake in the diversified media group for $2.21 a share, a three per cent discount on Tuesday's closing price of $2.28.
Seven West slumped 7.89 per cent, or 18 cents, to $2.10.
Myer sales rose for a fourth consecutive quarter but chief executive Bernie Brookes spoke negatively about the retail sector.
The company's shares were down nine cents, or 3.25 per cent, at $2.68.
* At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 14.7 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5,165.4 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was 14.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, weaker at 5,142.1.
* The June share price index futures contract was down 21 points lower at 5,171 with 25,994 contracts traded.
* *The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1,388.44 per fine ounce, down $US5.71 from $US1,394.15 on Tuesday.
* National turnover was 1.79 billion securities worth $5.01 billion.
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