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Rising dollar sees investors fall back

THE sharemarket closed lower, ending a three-day rally after a week of volatility, as investors pulled back in response to the local dollar rising in afternoon trade.

THE sharemarket closed lower, ending a three-day rally after a week of volatility, as investors pulled back in response to the local dollar rising in afternoon trade.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 35.6 points to 4247.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 29.5 points at 4317.3.

A CMC Markets trader, Ben Taylor, said the dollar's strength had prompted investors to pull back from trading.

"I think people are really seeing that as an indication [they should] cut some of their long bets over the last week and consolidate," he said.

Mr Taylor expects the market to hold steady for the next couple of days as investors await greater direction from offshore markets. "People are still more scared than they are confident and it seems like people are sitting on a bit of a knife's edge right now," he said.

Shares traded higher earlier in the day, led by bargain-hunting investors, after a number of positive trading reports were released during the morning.

Shares in the gambling company Tabcorp closed up 3? at $3.22, after it lifted net profit 14 per cent.

Among banks, Westpac shares lost 92?, or 4.4 per cent, to $20.25 after posting a 2 per cent fall in third-quarter cash earnings due to slowing credit growth. National Australia Bank was 36? lower at $23.21, ANZ fell 30? to $20.35 and Commonwealth Bank was down 55? at $46.83.

Qantas shares were 0.5? lower at $1.525, after the airline group announced a new strategy including aircraft acquisitions, new brands, and 1000 job losses.

OneSteel shares were up $1.50 at $1.45 after the steelmaker posted an 11 per cent fall in net profit. OZ Minerals was down 45? at $11.90 after posting a 72 per cent profit fall following the settlement of a class action. James Hardie Industries shares were up 5? at $5.40, after the building products maker reported a 99 per cent fall in quarterly profit.

Among the miners, BHP Billiton ended the day weaker, losing 42? at $39.43, while its rival, Rio Tinto, fell $1.13 to $73.39. The price of gold in Sydney was $US1768 a fine ounce, up $US32.40 from Monday's local close at $US1735.60.


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