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Profit-takers trim market gains

THE sharemarket closed lower yesterday after a weak Chinese manufacturing report dampened demand for commodities-linked companies, and softness among banking stocks.

THE sharemarket closed lower yesterday after a weak Chinese manufacturing report dampened demand for commodities-linked companies, and softness among banking stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 16.8 points to 4,591.2, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 11.9 points to 4,647.9. Despite yesterday's declines, the market closed the week up more than 1.8 per cent.

An IG Markets strategist, Ben Potter, said investors took the opportunity to take profits after a three-day rally before the long weekend in the United States.

"We're just seeing a bit of classic Friday afternoon profit-taking," he said. "It's been a pretty good week for the market."

"The Greek things went the right way [the vote for austerity measures to avoid debt default] and it was almost a perfect week in terms of what you hope [would] happen."

Investors reacted adversely to data showing Chinese manufacturing activity fell to its lowest since February 2009.

HSBC Economics said the slowdown implies that policy tightening is working, and points to a peaking of Chinese inflation soon.

Market leader BHP Billiton fell 3? to $43.77, Rio Tinto fell 16? to $82.83, and oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was 10? weaker at $40.90.

The big retail banks were down after UBS cut earnings forecasts. ANZ dipped 5? to $21.95, the Commonwealth was off 38? at $51.92, NAB fell 14? to $25.48 and Westpac 23? to $22.03.

Shares in rare earths supplier Lynas Corp fell sharply as the company denied reports that a planned Malaysian plant could be delayed by one to two years. Lynas fell 23?, or 11.6 per cent, to $1.75 and was the worst performer among the top 100 stocks.

Preliminary national turnover was 1.96 billion shares worth $4.21 billion.


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