Consolidation the key for investors

THE stockmarket finished slightly weaker yesterday, with investors consolidating gains generated by moves to boost growth in the United States and Europe.

THE stockmarket finished slightly weaker yesterday, with investors consolidating gains generated by moves to boost growth in the United States and Europe.

At the close of trade, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 7.8 points at 4394.7. The All Ords was down 4 points to 4417.

Shaw Stockbroking senior dealer Jamie Spiteri said the market might need a new catalyst after its recent strong run.

"The market has found a degree of balance or fair value around these levels and at present it is hard to find discounted value out there, now that we've had a recovery in the share prices of major resources stocks," he said.

"We have got the prospects of the likes of banks . . . coming in for some appeal over the next couple of months . . . as major dividend players over the next quarter.

"We've obviously got a situation where the moderating growth of Asia is having its impact in Australia and we need that to be supplemented by some sustainability and recovery in the US and Europe as well."

The standout stock on the local market was Fortescue Metals. The shares surged 51?, or 17 per cent, to $3.50 after the iron ore miner emerged from a trading halt, with news it had secured a $US4.5 billion debt refinancing facility from Credit Suisse and JPMorgan.

Among the banks ANZ and Commonwealth were unchanged, National Australia Bank added 8? to $25.56 and Westpac lost 7? to finish at $24.35.

Coalminer New Hope was up 37? at $4.55 after it said it was reviewing the pace at which it was developing new projects because of falling coal prices and the strong dollar.

Elsewhere in the resource sector, BHP Billiton was down 19? at $33.96 and Rio Tinto slipped 25? to $57.25.

Among other stocks, internet service provider TPG added 7? to $2.14 after it lifted its full-year profit by 16 per cent as it continued to increase its broadband and mobile customer numbers.

Building products supplier and takeover target Alesco was 0.5? higher at $1.905 as it said it expected its first-half profit to be well ahead of that in the previous corresponding period.

The dollar was two-thirds of a US cent lower after weak performances on Asian sharemarkets.

Late yesterday the Aussie was trading at US104.56?, down from US105.24? on Monday.

Commonwealth Bank currency strategist Peter Dragicevich said the dollar had been drifting lower since its six-month high of US106.25? late last week.

The spot price of gold in Sydney also closed lower, at $US1757.94 an ounce, down $US12.01 on its Monday close.

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