Magic 5000 breached, but day ends flat

THE sharemarket finished flat on Tuesday after the All Ordinaries Index pushed through the 5000-point barrier earlier in the day.

THE sharemarket finished flat on Tuesday after the All Ordinaries Index pushed through the 5000-point barrier earlier in the day.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was 0.5 points lower at 4959 while the broader All Ordinaries was up 1.2 points, at 4981.5.

CommSec analyst Juliette Saly said investors were positioning ahead of the release of major company reports later in the week.

"We have had some good earnings reports coming through so far, with Bradken today after JB Hi-Fi on Monday," Ms Saly said.

"We had a positive start, but it was encouraging to see the market push through that 5000-point level . . . in early trade despite the fact that we saw falls on US and Europe markets overnight."

Rio Tinto, Commonwealth Bank, Wesfarmers and Westfield are due to report later in the week.

"There's a lot of hope that these results will be better than what analysts had predicted," she said.

Financial stocks finished mixed, with CBA shares up 40¢, or 0.61 per cent, at $65.52.

Westpac was down 21¢ at $27.75, ANZ was down 21¢ at $27.56 and NAB was 16¢ lower at $28.93.

Resource stocks were also lower, after falls in commodity prices. Rio Tinto was down 42¢ at $69.03 and BHP Billiton was 12¢ lower at $37.59. Goldminer Newcrest was down 48¢ or 2 per cent, at $23.67.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1643.30 an ounce, down $US24.91.

Industrial equipment maker Bradken's first-half profit rose by 9 per cent to $46.7 million. Its shares were up 67¢, or 11 per cent, at $6.77.

Shares in Whitehaven Coal rose 7.7 per cent to $3.19 after its Maules Creek mine in NSW received conditional environmental approval.

Meanwhile, the dollar fell to a fresh three-month low of US102.55¢, down from US103.01¢ on Monday.

Commonwealth Bank strategist Joseph Capurso said the currency moved lower during the afternoon session after news reports suggested North Korea might have carried out a nuclear test.

He said the next big event for the currency would be the release on Wednesday night of US retail trade figures for January. The data would give the first indication of the effect of tax hikes agreed by the US Congress at the start of January.

Bond futures prices finished Tuesday's local session slightly lower. The March 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.570 (implying a yield of 3.430 per cent), down from 96.580 (3.420 per cent) on Monday. The three-year contract was at 97.220 (2.780 per cent), down from 97.230 (2.770 per cent).

Westpac senior market strategist Damien McColough said: "The market's drifted off a couple of ticks but without any real material drivers . . . we're caught watching offshore and feeding off their results."

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