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Resources gravy train leaves retailers, banks behind

A LAST-MINUTE rally was not enough to lift stocks back into the green at the close of trade yesterday.

A LAST-MINUTE rally was not enough to lift stocks back into the green at the close of trade yesterday.

The downward spiral was led by the retailers and compounded by losses from market heavyweights in the banking and resources sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 24.1 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 4,490.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 21.9 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 4561.3.

Coal, steel and gold stocks all rallied as investors scrambled to climb aboard the commodities gravy train after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke alluded to the possibility of a third round of quantitative easing.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop said the US central bank's announcement had encouraged investors to snap up resources stocks.

"The resources have been the big performers of the day, with one or two exceptions, but it hasn't been able to hold the market up," Mr Bishop said.

Goldminer Newcrest added 84?, or 2.16 per cent, to $39.80, Iluka Resources gained 59?, or 3.5 per cent, to $17.44, and oil and gas explorer Santos added 11?, or 0.84 per cent, to $13.25.

Mining heavyweight BHP Billiton was down 3? at $43.60 and Rio Tinto closed flat at $80.95.

Mr Bishop said the big banks all fell on the back of European uncertainty. "The banks are going down because there is a perception that some of them have exposure to Europe," he said.

Commonwealth Bank lost 58? to $49.02, NAB dropped 30? to $23.46, Westpac shed 37? to $20.77 while ANZ gave up 18? to $20.98.

Retail stocks took a hammering on the back of Wednesday's after-market downgrade of retail heavyweight David Jones. David Jones shares were sold off aggressively, losing 71?, or 18.61 per cent, to $3.20.

Rival Myer went the same way, shedding 17?, or 6.42 per cent, to $2.48, while Westfield Group lost 20?, or 2.32 per cent, to close at $8.42.

Mr Bishop said the market was nervy due to continued weak consumer sentiment.

Qantas continued to plummet, losing 3.5? to $1.825 after engineers threatened to take industrial action.

National turnover was 2.398 million shares, worth $5.09 billion, with 482 shares up, 549 down and 388 unchanged.


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