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Home help gives market vital resilience

THE sharemarket recovered from earlier heavy losses to close flat after a better-than-expected profit from Telstra offset negative offshore leads.

THE sharemarket recovered from earlier heavy losses to close flat after a better-than-expected profit from Telstra offset negative offshore leads.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.5 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 4140.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.9 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 4203.5.

The RBS Morgans client adviser, Bill Bishop, said the sharemarket had been unusually resilient amid poor US conditions, demonstrating investors' confidence in the strength of the local economy.

"Normally the Australian market would follow the Dow, but Australia has dug its heels against the American market ... It's been in and out of positive territory for half the day.

"That's an amazing performance when you consider what happened in America."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 519.83 points, or 4.62 per cent, to 10,719.94 at closing compared with its 430-point gain on Tuesday.

Among local stocks, Telstra rose 16?, or 5.65 per cent, to $2.99, after reporting a 17 per cent fall in full-year profit but forecast improvements in revenue and earnings.

Global media giant News Corp was up 54?, or 3.8 per cent, at $14.75 after reporting an 8 per cent increase in net profit. News Corp non-voting shares were up 39? at $14.25.

Among the banks, Westpac was up 31? at $20.45, ANZ was 29? higher at $20.09, National Australia Bank rose 10? to $22.90 and Commonwealth Bank was up 35? at $48.58. Mining heavyweight BHP Billiton was down 47? at $37.93 and Rio Tinto lost $1.94 to $70.41.

David Jones shares were down 6.43 per cent, or 18?, at $2.62 after the department store downgraded its profit forecast for the first half of the 2012 fiscal year amid a poor outlook for consumer sentiment.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1781.68 per fine ounce, up $US34.58 from Wednesday's local close at $US1747.10. Gold miner Newcrest Mining was up $1.49 at $40.74, benefiting from the surge in the gold price as investors resorted to safe havens in the midst of the market turmoil in the US and Europe.

Preliminary national turnover was 2.53 billion shares worth $7.31 billion, with 456 stocks up, 685 down and 289 steady.


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