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Miners push ahead on 10th day of gains

31 Jan 2013 THE AGE - MAX MASON


THE sharemarket closed higher for the 10th consecutive session on Wednesday, buoyed by a push from miners as banks took a rest for the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 added 7.7 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4896.7, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 8.3 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4919.1.

The 10 days of gains on the ASX 200 mark the longest winning streak since October 2003.

The materials sector held the market in the black as financials, which had led most of the recent rally, slowed down slightly for the day.

Among the sectors, materials jumped 0.9 per cent, energy added 1 per cent and financials inched up 0.17 per cent.

Head of risk and execution at Citi Sean Larcombe said after 10 days with the market in positive territory there seemed to be some fatigue setting in, with the focus on offshore data overnight.

"You've got the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] meeting [in the US], two large bond auctions in Europe, US and Spanish GDP, US employment data coming out and a whole raft of companies reporting," Mr Larcombe said.

Among the miners, Rio Tinto jumped 1.5 to $67.12, while rival BHP gained 1.2 per cent to $37.62. Iron ore miner Fortescue added 0.9 per cent to $4.73.

"The iron ore price seems to have consolidated at this level; if it holds . . . then some resource names look a lot more attractive," Mr Larcombe said.

The big banks halted their charge forward, with ANZ the only major to post gains, up 0.3 per cent at $26.58. NAB fell 0.3 per cent to $27.64, Westpac lost 0.2 per cent to $28.17 and Commonwealth was relatively flat at $64.70.

Despite the pull back, Mr Larcombe remained optimistic about the financial sector.

"Financials has been the only sector to see net earnings upgraded on a global basis through this reporting period," he said.

"The US is seeing the same sort of thematics that we're seeing in our market in terms of that flow of funds into the financials."

Wesfarmers shares lost ground, despite reporting increases in sales across all its retail businesses. The shares fell 1.8 per cent to $38.13, while rival Woolworths, which reports on Thursday, lost 0.7 per cent to $31.65.

Media shares also took a battering; Ten Network dropped 2.9 per cent to 33.5¢, Fairfax Media slid 2.7 per cent to 55¢, Seven West Media fell 1.9 per cent to $2.10 and APN lost 1.6 per cent to 30.5¢.

The Australian dollar was slightly higher but was trading in a tight range.

At 5pm on Wednesday, the dollar was trading at US104.73¢, up from US104.52¢ on Tuesday.