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Disappointing retail data keeps the lid on gains

THE local market underperformed its Asian and US counterparts yesterday as disappointing consumer spending figures for May left retail stocks struggling.

THE local market underperformed its Asian and US counterparts yesterday as disappointing consumer spending figures for May left retail stocks struggling.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 19.5 points, or 0.42 per cent higher, to 4,610.7, while the broader All Ordinaries closed 22.5 points, or 0.48 per cent, higher at 4,670.4.

Shares on Wall Street rose sharply on Friday, while most of Asia's major stockmarkets gained good ground yesterday.

Weak local data was to blame for the underperformance, said Geoff Saffer, the head of research at Australian Stock Report.

"The retail spending figures were quite a surprise to the market," Mr Saffer said.

The Bureau of Statistics said retail spending had fallen 0.6 per cent in May, well below expectations of a 0.3 per cent rise.

The market now believed it was less likely the Reserve Bank would decide to raise the cash rate when it meets today, Mr Saffer said.

Residential building approvals figures for May were also weak and a rebound in job advertisement numbers in June had been largely ignored, he said.

Retail stocks bore the brunt of investor concern.

Woolworths lost 5? to $27.72, department store owner Myer slipped 1? to $2.58 and discretionary retailer Harvey Norman was down 2? at $2.42.

Market heavyweight BHP Billiton gained 25? to $44.02, while rival Rio Tinto rose 32? to $83.15.

The big banks were the laggards yesterday with most losing ground, except Commonwealth Bank, which was up 14? at $52.06.

Telstra eased 1? to $2.91.

The grounding of Tiger Airways Australia was good news for its competitors, with Virgin Blue shares up 3?, or 10.53 per cent, to 31.5?. Qantas shares rose 12?, or 6.49 per cent, to $1.97.

Murchison Metals fell 1.5?, or nearly 2 per cent, to 75? after the company said costs at the embattled Oakajee port and rail project in Western Australia had blown out.

Trading was light ahead of the Fourth of July public holiday in the US last night.


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