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Investors see a healthier picture locally

THE sharemarket closed weaker for the second day in a row yesterday but performed relatively better than US and European markets, which sold off on renewed sovereign debt concerns.

THE sharemarket closed weaker for the second day in a row yesterday but performed relatively better than US and European markets, which sold off on renewed sovereign debt concerns.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 30 points, or 0.72 per cent.

The local market opened about 1.4 per cent lower but managed to pick up some ground during morning trade.

Sentiment from overseas including 2.5 per cent falls on Wall Street and 3.5 per cent drops in Europe prompted the declines at the open.

Across Asia the news was not as bad, with Shanghai down 1 per cent, the Hang Seng off by 0.6 per cent and the Nikkei flat.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said it was good to see Australian investors de-coupling from other markets and thinking for themselves.

"I suspect today that people are recognising we've got a different situation here in Australia than in Europe or the US," he said. "While we are obviously interlinked, our links with Asia and our better internal situation means that we should as a market outperform."

BlueScope Steel said it would conduct a fully underwritten four-for-five accelerated renounceable entitlement offer to raise $600 million to repay debt.

The capital raising would be at 40? a share, a 34 per cent discount on the last trading price of 61? before the steelmaker entered into a trading halt. Fellow steelmaker OneSteel was the worst performer on the ASX 200, down 10?, or 10.8 per cent, at 83?.

Shopping centre operator Centro successfully jumped the first hurdle in its bid for a restructure after retail group security holders voted in favour of the aggregation of Centro Retail Group and Centro Properties Group.

Both entities were in a trading halt, with the retail group last trading at 31? and the properties group having last traded at 4?.

Gold stocks pared back some early losses, finishing down 0.99 per cent, while the metals and minerals sector was 1.1 per cent weaker.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1683.04 an ounce, down $US37.14 from Monday.

Newcrest Mining was down 20? at $35.05, while Kingsgate Consolidated was up 6? at $6.38.

Rio Tinto had a bad day, down $1.40, or 2.1 per cent, at $64.50. BHP Billiton declined 30? to $35.60.

Qantas was down 7? at $1.57.

National turnover was 2.19 billion shares worth $5.14 billion, with about seven shares falling for every three that gained.


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