Aust stocks close lower

Investors take profits after yesterday's strong rise, while gold stocks lift on worries about Iraq.

The Australian sharemarket has closed lower today as investors took profits after yesterday's strong gains on the back of dovish tones from the US Federal Reserve.

At the 4.15pm (AEST) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 48.7 points, or 0.89%, to 5,419.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 44.8 points, or 0.82%, to 5,401.6 points. 

Lonsec senior client adviser and economist Michael Heffernan noted softness in some Asian markets today, as well as uncertainty about conflict in Iraq.

"The market really slipped back in the afternoon, which would seem to indicate maybe someone was getting concerned about what was going on elsewhere," Mr Heffernan said.

"When you look through the market, at the big stocks, there were no prisoners taken."

But gold stocks were a standout after the gold price lifted overnight due to worries about Iraq and a slight increase in concern about inflation.

"They might as well enjoy their day in the sunshine. I think it's more of a case of one swallow doesn't make a summer," he said. 

The lift in oil prices is also likely to continue, Mr Heffernan said, adding that he expects the geopolitical tensions to have only a short-term effect on markets, compared with longer-term issues such as entrenched inflation or slow growth.

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