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The Australian share market has snapped its three-day winning streak, hit by losses in the big four banks and consumer-exposed stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 27.9 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 6,258.1 points after hitting a new 10 1/2 year high of 6306.1 points in the first 10 minutes of trade, while the All Ordinaries index fell 23.6 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 6,342.8 points.

Shaw and Partners senior private client adviser Craig Sidney said the bullish run early in the morning could have been the trigger for profit-taking, most notably in the big four banks.

“The market has probably got a little bit ahead of itself up until yesterday, sitting around a 10 1/2 year high,” Mr Sidney said.

“You’ve got a few investors saying it’s time to take a bit of profit and have sold down the banking sector.”

The release of National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey late Tuesday morning, which showed the weakest business confidence in 20 months, may have also hurt market sentiment, Mr Sidney said.

CBA dropped 2.2 per cent to $74.43 after a strong run in recent weeks, ANZ fell one per cent to $28.80, Westpac also slipped one per cent to $29.49 and National Australia Bank lost 0.6 per cent to $27.86.

Investment bank Macquarie Group also lost ground, finishing 0.9 per cent lower at $122.52.

Wesfarmers- which owns several retail chains including Bunnings and Kmart – was also hit by profit-taking, falling 1.3 per cent to $49.36, Mr Sidney said.

However there were some notable gains across the materials and energy sectors.

BHP Billiton rose 1.1 per cent to $34.23 and Rio Tinto gained 0.9 per cent to $81.62 as copper rallied overnight alongside international equity markets.

Energy stocks, including Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy, finished up 0.6 per cent to $36.32 and 0.2 per cent to $10.09, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was broadly flat at 74.64 US cents at 1700 AEST on Tuesday, from 74.60 US cents on Monday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 27.9 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 6,258.1 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 23.6 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 6,342.8 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 29 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 6,211 points at 1630 AEST

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 74.64 US cents, from 74.60 US cents on Monday

* 82.894 Japanese yen, from 82.431 yen

* 63.54 euro cents, from 63.42 euro cents

* 56.32 British pence, from 56.06 pence

* 109.08 NZ cents, from 109.09 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,256.98 per fine ounce, down from $US1,260.20 per fine ounce on Monday.