Tight at the top as a small slowdown puts the squeeze on runaway racers

NOT the most pleasantly fragranced second week to a shares race. The market has possibly seen a little too much sun and there are signs that the multi-month rally may be starting to pong. The benchmark ASX 200 index deflated by a tad over 1 per cent, with banks and mining stocks the worst drags.

NOT the most pleasantly fragranced second week to a shares race. The market has possibly seen a little too much sun and there are signs that the multi-month rally may be starting to pong. The benchmark ASX 200 index deflated by a tad over 1 per cent, with banks and mining stocks the worst drags.

What was a close race has become positively claustrophobic. Amid the crush, risk manager Michael Grau-Veliz has elbowed his way past intergalactic royalty in the form of Doreen Daze to claim a lead at the mid point of the race. It has to be said that Michael can consider himself a tad fortunate after a 14 per cent surge in Wotif.com almost cancelled out the fact that every one of his other stocks went backwards. But was it really luck? Or just totally ace risk management? You be the judge.

Every leg of the race has its hero, and this week it's financial planner Shaun Purcell, who was the only competitor to make any money, propelling him from sixth to podium contender. Fleetwood was his standout - up 6 per cent - but Flight Centre and Treasury Group also added some neat gains, showing that he's more than a one-trick pony (yes, we're looking at you, Michael).

Dartboard did pretty well, crawling through the legs of Richard "Chartman" Pritchard to sit within a pineapple's* distance of Shaun. Reader Peter Callaghan had a shocker and finds himself spat out the back of the leading pack as he drops to sixth from third, mostly thanks to an 18 per cent plunge in St Barbara, who - and I bet you didn't know this - is the patron saint of disappointed shareholders. True story.

*This is what the cool kids - like us - call a $50 note. Get with it!

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