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Shares back into negative after early rally

THE sharemarket yesterday fell back into negative territory to close lower after earlier positive trading in response to takeover announcements and strong earnings results.

THE sharemarket yesterday fell back into negative territory to close lower after earlier positive trading in response to takeover announcements and strong earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished down 19.6 points at 4082.3.

Bell Potter client adviser Greg McPherson said the market reflected the volatile nature of trading in recent weeks.

"It was a pretty wild spike mid to late morning and then it just sort of ran out of steam," he said. "I don't think there's a great deal of conviction out there."

Mr McPherson said investors were trying to make sense of company results at a busy stage of the reporting season.

Shaw Stockbroking senior dealer Jamie Spiteri said investors responded to positive company results and takeover activity in earlier trading.

The market opened slightly lower and within half an hour had moved into positive territory.

Amcor closed up 17? at $6.70 after the packaging manufacturer reported it almost doubled full-year net profit to $356.7 million.

BlueScope Steel lost 4.5? to 74.5? after the steel maker confirmed the closure of two of its plants and 1000 job cuts and reported a $1.054 billion loss for the year to June 30.

Shares in Australia's second-biggest steel maker, OneSteel, closed down 1? at $1.33 after earlier gains following its announcement it would invest $346 million in several iron ore mines.

The big four banks closed lower, with ANZ down 20? at $19.30 and Westpac 29? lower at $19.36. National Australia Bank was 19? weaker at $22.21 and Commonwealth Bank lost 6? to $45.90.

Global miner BHP Billiton was up 3? at $37.53 and Rio Tinto was down 84?, or 1.2 per cent, at $68.58.

Treasury Wine Estates closed steady at $3.17 after saying there was significant opportunity to expand its business in Asia.

The wine company reported a $64.1 million full-year net profit in its first annual result since separating from brewer Foster's Group in May.

Primary Healthcare was down 8? at $2.66 after reporting that full-year profit declined 40 per cent, as the medical services provider felt the effect of government funding reductions and lower patient demand.

Gold kept rising. At the Sydney close, the spot price was up $US44.65 at $US1892.45 an ounce from Friday's close at $US1847.80. Goldminer Newcrest was up 66? at $40.20.

National turnover was 2.29 billion shares worth $5.94 billion, with 421 stocks up 598 down, and 354 steady.


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