SYDNEY- The Australian share market closed flat despite a boost to energy stocks from buoyant investor sentiment over the $50 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 7.8 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 4,373.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 1.6 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 4,387.5 points.

At 1615 AEST on the Sydney Futures Exchange the September share price index contract was down 20 points at 4,335 points on a volume of 26,162 contracts.

Shaw Stockbroking senior dealer Jamie Spiteri said growth in energy stocks on PetroChina's agreement to buy $50 billion worth of LNG from the proposed Gorgon development offset a weaker market.

"Woodside is the biggest component of that sector, and the one which is attracted most attention," Mr Spiteri said.

"(Other energy stocks) have risen more modestly, but you can see that they have actually had improvements over the day in comparison to the broader market drifting back a little bit."

Woodside shares gained $1.56, or 3.65 per cent, to $44.28 but had posted a fall in first half profit on weaker commodity prices.

Santos added 21 cents to $14.71, while Oil Search lost five cents to $5.56.

Origin Energy shares fell 30 cents to $14.70 after reporting a 20 per cent rise in underlying earnings for 2008/09.

The wider market was digesting a wealth of company reports and consolidating after recent gains, Mr Spiteri said.

"There's been some conflicting moves across the market, there's results to digest and there's just a bit of uncertainty about where markets are going to go from here," he said.

"The market is looking to consolidate around these levels now."

BHP Billiton lost 55 cents to $36.71 while Rio Tinto gained $1.30 to $58.20.

Among the major banks, NAB was down 26 cents to $26.81, ANZ fell 57 cents to $19.80 and Westpac dropped 20 cents to $23.54.

Commonwealth Bank was down 36 cents at $44.94 as it said it would pay up to $165 million to take part China's Bank of Hangzhou equity raising.

Making news, Qantas said demand for air travel appears to be improving after Australia's biggest airline posted an 87.9 per cent drop in annual net profit and flagged further cost cutting.

Qantas shares gained nine cents, or 3.46 per cent, to $2.69.

Blood products and vaccines developer CSL reported a 63.3 per cent jump in annual profit and forecast further earnings growth this year as it starts to meet orders for swine flu vaccine.

CSL shares ended 44 cents lower, down 1.31 per cent, at $33.12.

Construction materials group Boral reported a slump in annual profit and slashed dividends due to the housing downturn and forecast mixed trading conditions in the current year.

Boral shares gained 21 cents, or 3.71 per cent, to $5.87.

Fund manager Perpetual said it was well positioned for an equities market recovery after its full year profit slumped 71 per cent due to a plunge in share markets.

Perpetual rose $1.37, or 3.94 per cent, to $36.17.

Anti-infective drug developer Biota Holdings reported an annual profit of $38.2 million for the 2008/09 financial year and forecast strength in the current year.

Biota shares lost 4.5 cents, or 2.32 per cent, to $1.895.

Women's clothing retailer Noni B said it would focus on lifting margins in 2009/10 after posting an 8.23 per cent full-year profit slump and withholding a final dividend.

Noni B stocks fell five cents, or 5.26 per cent, to 90 cents.

At 1628 AEST the spot price of gold in Sydney was $936.20 per fine ounce, down US$3.25 on Tuesday's close of US$939.45.

Among the gold miners, Lihir Gold lost eight cents to $2.46 and Newcrest dropped 76 cents to $28.80.

The most-traded stock by volume was Boart Longyear with 219.1 million shares worth $75.18 million changing hands.

Boart shares were down 2.9 cents, or 8.45 per cent, to 32.5 cents.

Preliminary market turnover was 2.73 billion shares worth $5.72 billion, with 671 stocks up, 427 down and 296 unchanged.

- AAP