RTTNews - The Australian market snapped the recent gains and ended in negative territory on Wednesday after commodity prices declined and traders preferred to lock gains in resource stocks.

In the U.S., stocks ended on a mixed note with major averages closing on either side of the unchanged line amid yet another low volume trading as traders digested weak economic numbers and earnings.

On the economic front, a report released by the Conference Board revealed that consumer confidence deteriorated by more than expected in the month of July, reflecting less favorable assessments of both current conditions and near-term outlook. The Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index fell to 46.6 in July from an unrevised 49.3 in June. Economists had been expecting a much more modest decline by the index to a reading of about 49.0.

In another report, Standard and Poor's revealed that its S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index fell at an annual rate of 17.1% in May compared to the 18.1% decrease reported for April. Economists had expected the report to show that prices fell 17.9% year-over-year. On a monthly basis, S&P said that 13 of the 20 metro areas reported positive returns, contributing to the first monthly increase by the 20-city composite since the summer of 2006. The 20-city composite index rose 0.5 percent for the month.

Traders also digested earnings of Valero Energy (VLO), Amgen (AMGN), Manitowoc (MTW) and Office Depot (ODP).

While the Nasdaq closed up by 7.62 points or 0.4% at 1,976, the Dow fell by 11.79 points or 0.1% to 9,097 and the S&P 500 slipped by 2.56 points or 0.3% to 980.

The All Ordinaries Index opened lower at 4,163 compared to its previous close at 4,174 and drifted down on lower commodity prices. The market briefly staged a recovery led by financials and moved above the unchanged line but could not sustain the gains and moved back to negative territory in the afternoon session, amid profit taking. The index finally ended the session in negative territory with a loss of 25.10 points, or 0.60% at 4,149. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index also followed a similar trend and ended at 4,143, representing a loss of 26.70 points, or 0.64%.

Light sweet crude oil for September delivery ended the Asian trading session at $66.53, down $0.70 from its previous close in New York at $67.23 a barrel on Tuesday.

Commodity stocks led the decline following a pullback in oil and metal prices in the international market. Among mining stocks, BHP Billiton fell 1.55%, Rio Tinto lost 2.36%, Fortescue Metals slumped 5.24%, Iluka Resources declined 3.77%, and Oz Minerals dropped 3.52%.

Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum slipped 0.67%, Santos lost 1.16%, Oil Search fell 2.76%, and Origin Energy declined 1.77%.

Gold stocks also declined on lower bullion prices. Lihir Gold slumped 3.91%, Newcrest Mining fell 1.41% and Sino Gold edged down 0.54%.

Mixed trading was witnessed among the banks. While Westpac Banking added 0.14%, ANZ Bank slipped 0.06%, Commonwealth Bank edged down 0.30% and National Australia Bank fell 0.78%.

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