InvestSMART

Take it as red: investors fragile and wary

THE sharemarket closed firmly in the red yesterday after a fall in commodity prices and as it became apparent a full resolution of the European debt crisis is not imminent.

THE sharemarket closed firmly in the red yesterday after a fall in commodity prices and as it became apparent a full resolution of the European debt crisis is not imminent.

The benchmark

S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 68.8 points, or 1.63 per cent, to 4144.9.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said investor sentiment was fragile and risk-averse.

"Any bad news is magnified and positive news tends to be ignored," he said. "We're all concerned about the curse on our global village, and we want to burn a witch." But a market pull-back was healthy, given recent rallies on the Australian market.

"We don't want to see markets go in a straight line because that's just setting itself up for a reversal," Mr McCarthy said.

The view on Europe's debt crisis was tending back towards pessimism.

It was becoming clear that the situation would not be resolved this weekend, when European leaders hold a summit.

"Realistically, that's not going to happen, and at best what we're going to see is some containment of the potential dangers to the financial system," Mr McCarthy said. "They'll deal with the debt market situation but won't be able, in a short time frame, to deal in an effective manner with the longer-term structural problems, that is, the budget deficits so many of those southern European nations are running."

Mr McCarthy said investors would stay on the sidelines until the G20 meeting on November 3.

He said the mining and energy sectors were the worst performers yesterday, after a fall in commodity prices, particularly for oil and copper.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto was down $2.23, or 3.4 per cent, at $62.85, BHP Billiton slipped 92?, or 2.5 per cent, to $35.48 and Fortescue backtracked 21?, or 4.7 per cent, to $4.31.

In energy stocks, Woodside was down $1.46, or 4.2 per cent, at $33.60, while Santos eased 27?, or 2.2 per cent, to $12.07 after the company increased third-quarter sales revenue by 27 per cent and maintained its full-year production guidance.

Newcrest reported a 16 per cent drop in gold production for the September quarter.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1614.79 an ounce, down $US45.08 from Wednesday's $US1659.87.

National turnover was below average, Mr McCarthy said, at about 1.55 billion shares, worth $4.7 billion.

More than twice as many stocks fell for every one that rose.


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