Index up 2.8% for week as buyers return

DESPITE a dip yesterday, the sharemarket has had its best run in weeks, gaining 2.8 per cent over five sessions, after investors put their risk aversion to one side and piled into equities.

DESPITE a dip yesterday, the sharemarket has had its best run in weeks, gaining 2.8 per cent over five sessions, after investors put their risk aversion to one side and piled into equities.

Positive profit results and renewed optimism from the US helped buoy investors, who only last week watched the benchmark index drop nearly 2 per cent.

That optimism was particularly evident on Thursday when the market put on more than $24 billion in value to close on a two-month high, with resource and energy stocks the biggest beneficiaries.

The dollar was holding at a six-week high against the greenback US104.09? at the close of the Australian session as the June-quarter terms of trade data was released. It was also at near-record levels against the euro.

The foreign-trade price figures showed the terms of trade, a key indicator for the Australian economy, still in negative territory despite the import price index gaining 2.4 per cent in the three months to June and the export price index rising 1 per cent.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index eased 7.6 points, or 0.18 per cent, yesterday to 4199.1.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said investors appeared to be taking a breather. "Today there seemed to be a lack of fresh positive drivers on Asian markets," he said. "There's just been a lot of profit-taking and quiet consolidation. Investors are happy to lock in some of the gains from the week."

Mr Shamu said it was hard to tell where the next driver for global markets would come from.

He said there were still plenty of issues in focus, including the economic health of Spain, the possibility of further economic stimulus in the US and China, and the results of the current company earnings season in the US.

Economists were preparing for the release of second-quarter inflation data from the Bureau of Statistics.

"Based on our figuring, the [June-quarter] price data will not stand in the way of a near-term rate cut. But nor will it unequivocally make the case for lower interest rates," said Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe.

"The one exception would be an inflation print that suggested a risk of undershooting the 2-3 per cent target band for an extended period."

The big banks all slipped yesterday, Westpac losing 10? to $22.85, ANZ 16? to $23.07, NAB 9? to $23.99 and Commonwealth 78? to $55.12.

BHP Billiton gained 26? to $31.36 and Rio Tinto edged up 3? to $53.39.

Uranium explorer Energy and Minerals Australia rose nearly a cent, to 9?, after it said the prompt granting of a mining licence for its Mulga Rocks project boosted confidence that it would go into production.

Shares in Ten Network firmed 1? to 51.5? after it agreed to sell outdoor advertising business Eye Corp to Outdoor Media Operations for up to $145 million.

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