Share market breaks hot streak

How can you benefit from the weakness in the market?

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The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) index suffered its first weekly loss following seven consecutive weeks of gains as it succumbed to pressure from international volatility.

The index had a strong run throughout September as it pushed above the 5300-point mark and set a new five-year high, but has since followed the losses realised in the US and Europe with the US government shutdown continuing and budget talks stalling. After having closed the previous Friday at 5,307.10 points, Australia's benchmark index fell 1.9% to close last week at 5,208 points.

Australia's key financials contributed to the weakness, with Westpac (ASX: WBC), Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA), NAB (ASX: NAB) and ANZ (ASX: ANZ) all conceding between 0.9% and 2.6%.

Meanwhile, despite new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that metal ore and mineral exports had increased by 7% for August, the large miners also fell in value as the Australian dollar strengthened and iron ore remained around the US$130 per tonne level. BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP), for instance, fell 3.4% for the week whilst Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) fell 4.5% and 3%, respectively.

Leighton Holdings (ASX: LEI) however, was one of the biggest losers for the week as new reports suggested that corruption was widespread in the company's international operations. The company's market capitalisation fell by more than $900 million as the stock fell 15.2% on the allegations.

Foolish takeaway

To quote the world's most successful investor, Warren Buffett, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."  Although it is never nice to watch our portfolios fall in value, times like these can also provide investors with the opportunity to pick up quality companies at cheap valuations.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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