The Australian share market closed flat, with banking stocks clawing back from a weak start after heavy overnight losses on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 2.9 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5939.5 points on Friday while the broader All Ordinaries lost 0.12 per cent.

China’s economy grew 6.5 per cent in the third quarter, a tick short of forecasts and the slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

But Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said positive commentary from various high-ranking officials in Beijing helped kickstart the local market.

“The pace of growth (in China) is still fairly good,” he said.

“Money creation and supply has ticked up a little bit and what we need is a circuit breaker and it does seem we’re getting more supportive rhetoric that they are going to defend asset prices.”

The financial sector closed higher for the fourth straight session.

National Australia Bank was the only of the major lenders to finish lower after its chief executive Andrew Thorburn appeared at the House economics committee.

It was down 0.3 per cent to $25.67, while Commonwealth Bank had the strongest gains of the big four, up one per cent to $67.92.

The heavyweight materials sector – which has proved a consistent drag for almost two weeks – was lower following an overnight dip for several industrial metals.

Sector giants BHP and Rio Tinto were down 0.3 and 1.7 per cent respectively, and Fortescue Metals and South32 were both more than two per cent lower.

Gold stocks, however, gained on the back of a jump in the safe-haven precious metal, with St Barbara, Northern Star, Regis Resources and Saracen Mineral all closing between 4.3 and 5.3 per cent higher.

Buy-now pay-later fintech Afterpay continued its choppy week, reacting to concerns of an inquiry and negative global sentiment.

It was down 3.5 per cent to $12.50, dragging the infotech sector down 1.1 per cent.

The Australian dollar was cautious after Beijing offset a mixed bag of Chinese data by pledging more support for the economy, though risk sentiment remained all-too fragile after a rough week.

The Aussie was buying 71.09 US cents at 1630 AEDT, from 71.24 US cents on Thursday.


* The S&P/ASX200 was down 2.9 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5939.5 points

* The All Ordinaries was down 7.4 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 6042.7

* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was unchanged at 5922.0 points at 1630 AEDT.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.09 US cents, from 71.24 US cents on Thursday

* 79.95 Japanese yen, from 80.15

* 62.04 euro cents, from 61.99

* 54.59 British pence, from 54.44

* 108.33 NZ cents, from 108.76


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1227.35 per fine ounce, from $US1222.34 on Thursday.