Market cools off after seven-day gains

THE sharemarket closed lower yesterday, snapping a seven-day winning streak, as weak leads from overseas led investors to consolidate after the recent rally.

THE sharemarket closed lower yesterday, snapping a seven-day winning streak, as weak leads from overseas led investors to consolidate after the recent rally.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 12.5 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4481.9.

Goldminers led the losses, dropping 2.6 per cent, energy stocks lost 0.6 per cent, materials fell 0.5 per cent and financials dropped 0.4 per cent. Defensive stocks were up, as health added 0.2 per cent, telecommunications and consumer staples both rose 0.1 per cent.

"Seven days of gains is pretty impressive. The market was probably due for a bit of easing," said Suncorp markets analyst Darryl Conroy.

"I think there is just a bit of concern about the Australian economy with respect to the mining boom continuing to hover," he said.

Miner BHP fell 0.2 per cent to $33.25 while rival Rio Tinto traded flat at $54.90. Goldminer Newcrest dropped 3.2 per cent to $28.20. But iron ore miner Fortescue Metals added 2.8 per cent to $3.71.

The dollar continued to ease, trading less than $US1.02 at $US1.0165.

"[The dollar] is very related to the Australian economic outlook, which is turning a little bit softer. The rate-cut outlook has increased cash futures are suggesting an 80 per cent chance of that in November," Mr Conroy said.

The ANZ jobs ad index fell 2.8 per cent last month, and 10.8 per cent from a year ago.

The jobs market might be more depressed than official Australian Bureau of Statistics figures suggested, Mr Conroy said.

"There seems to be a little bit of concern starting to come out about [ABS jobs figures]," he said.

"There seems to be a number of corners who have voiced their concerns about the disparity between what the ABS is printing and where the market seems to think they are. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest the employment market is softening." Official ABS figures are due out on Thursday.

Among the banks, ANZ was the only one of the big four to see gains, up 0.1 per cent to $25.52. CBA fell 0.5 per cent to $56.59, NAB lost 0.4 per cent to $26.21 and Westpac dropped 0.1 per cent to $25.85.

Seven West Media added 4.1 per cent to $1.28 after rumours of a takeover by its majority shareholder Seven Group.

QR National, Australia's largest rail operator, hit a five-month high, jumping 5.2 per cent, to $3.65 when the Queensland government began selling more than half its stake in the company.

Billabong continued its slide, falling a further 4.7 per cent to $1.01 as investors began to question whether TPG would follow through with its takeover bid.

HOW THE MARKET MOVED

YESTERDAY (%)

Industrials 0.93

Health 0.22

Cons stap 0.11

Cons disc 0.08

Telecoms 0.07

Financials -0.44

Materials -0.53

Energy -0.56

Utilities -1.16

Info tech -1.25

These are the percentage moves in the 10 sectors that make up the S&P/ASX 200 Index.

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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