Major shares lead the way as market takes a slight dip

The sharemarket fell as investors cashed in on bank stock profits following recent record highs and the annual meeting season produced more bad news, particularly for the troubled mining services sector.

The sharemarket fell as investors cashed in on bank stock profits following recent record highs and the annual meeting season produced more bad news, particularly for the troubled mining services sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 17 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5384.7, with every major sector in the red, despite opening higher off a strong lead from gains in every major market in the US, Asia and Europe on Friday.

The broader All Ordinaries fell 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5377.9.

"At a macro-level, we still believe equity markets are rising and that it is a good time to invest in riskier assets such as shares," Invesco portfolio manager Cynthia Jenkins said.

Falls in three of the big four banks, which are coming off record highs earlier this month, were a big contributor to the market's losses.

Commonwealth Bank fell 0.6 per cent to $77.34, while ANZ lost 0.6 per cent to $32.10 and Westpac fell 0.4 per cent to $32.87. National Australia Bank bucked the trend, up 0.2 per cent to $34.36.

Metals and mining, the best-performing sector, finished flat.

Arrium was the best-performing stock, climbing 7.9 per cent to $1.64, as it reported record quarterly shipments up 94 per cent on the previous corresponding quarter.

BHP Billiton rose 0.2 per cent to $37.95. Conditional environmental approvals were secured for a multibillion-dollar floating LNG joint venture off the coast of Western Australia with ExxonMobil. Rio Tinto also gained 0.2 per cent to $65.65 after the spot price for iron ore, landed in China, added 0.2 per cent to $US136.80 a tonne.

Downer EDI jumped 1.8 per cent to $5.21 on news it was awarded a contract to provide services to Hancock Prospecting's Roy Hill iron ore mine, estimated at $500 million.

Heavy mining equipment provider Emeco Holdings rose 2 per cent to 25.5¢ after issuing its third profit warning in seven months but telling investors it expects conditions to improve in the second half.

Leighton Holdings lost 0.2 per cent to $16.85 despite news its Asian division and a subsidiary were awarded a $329 million contract to build part of a railway in Singapore.

Junior goldminer St Barbara was the worst-performing stock, down 9.7 per cent to 32.5¢ as the commodity spot price dipped 0.2 per cent to $US1287.24 an ounce.

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