Weaker miners bring rally to an end

THE sharemarket closed weaker as declines among the major miners dragged the broader market lower and snapped a two-day rally.

THE sharemarket closed weaker as declines among the major miners dragged the broader market lower and snapped a two-day rally.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 16.9 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 4723.8, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 18.5 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 4742.9.

The market opened down about 0.3 per cent, following a disappointing night on Wall Street as investors reacted negatively to news the US central bank may consider ending its quantitative easing program earlier than expected.

Stocks remained stuck in red figures but held their ground to trade in a tight range throughout Friday's session, ending a two-day rally.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said the declines were a healthy sign. "We've had such strong runs in both the US market and the local market," he said. "We need a bit of a flush, a bit of a correction or at least a pause to consolidate to bring new buyers into the market.

"A concern from an investor's point of view is when a market runs and runs in one direction because inevitably that then leads to a very significant correction."

Gold was the worst-performing sector, falling 3.48 per cent. Metals and minerals stocks (down 1.34 per cent) and materials (down 1.17 per cent) were also in negative territory.

BHP Billiton fell 24 cents to $37.91, while Rio Tinto was off 70 cents at $68.55.

One bright spot was financial stocks, with the big four banks all posting gains. ANZ climbed 8 cents cents to $25.26, CBA 1 cent to $63.25, NAB 6 cents to $25.31 and Westpac was 6 cents firmer at $26.25.

Making news, Atlas Iron said it was on track to produce up to 7.7 million tonnes of iron ore in the 2013 financial year after bringing its third Pilbara iron ore mine into production. Atlas fell 6 cents to $1.81.

Macmahon Holdings said an agreement to sell its construction operations to Leighton meant it was unable to let an Indian-based bidder that emerged on Thursday conduct due diligence on the assets. Macmahon was up 0.5 cent at 29 cents, while Leighton was 35 cents higher at $19.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1649.90 per fine ounce, down $US36.53.

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