Euro woes send stocks down for fourth day

THE sharemarket yesterday lost ground for a fourth straight day as investor worries about Europe trumped a rebound in the

THE sharemarket yesterday lost ground for a fourth straight day as investor worries about Europe trumped a rebound in the US overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed down 12.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 4171.9.

Trading volumes were about 30 per cent below normal, which Macquarie Private Wealth client adviser James Rosenberg said had been the case for most days in the past few weeks.

While Europe's debt crisis was weighing on the market, a positive for Australia was talk about China allowing more credit liquidity, with Shanghai's sharemarket yesterday rising on the news, he said.

"We have a substantially greater reliance on what happens in China than what happens in Greece," Mr Rosenberg said.

Most ASX sectors were down yesterday, with gold companies and consumer discretionaries bucking the trend.

ANZ was the worst performer among the big banks, closing down 41?, or

2 per cent, at $20.49.

Mr Rosenberg said that all the banks had lost ground, following earnings reports that were slightly below expectations, while outlook statements for credit growth were "muted".

Perpetual retreated 56? to $20.74 after the wealth manager forecast a drop in first-half underlying profit due to weakening equity markets.

Goldminer Newcrest posted a gain of 12?, or 0.4 per cent, to $33.77 in response to strength in gold. At the Sydney close, the spot price of gold was up $US8.65 at $US1733.50 an ounce.

News Corp put on 70?, or 4.2 per cent, to $17.21, with its non-voting shares up 59? at $16.77. The company maintained earnings guidance for 2011-12, after reporting a "great start" to this financial year.

Woolworths rebounded with a gain of 52? to $23.91 after the competition watchdog admitted it might be tough to prove the company was abusing its market dominance by stocking more house-brand products. Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, lost 48? to $31.40.

Shares in Logistics

group Brambles, which has launched an aerospace division for its CHEP pallet business, climbed 6? to $6.49.

Building products maker Boral dropped 8? to $3.60 after it said its first-half performance would be broadly similar to the second half of the latest financial year.

Stocks on Wall Street rebounded on Wednesday night after the US Federal Reserve's policymakers kept interest rates ultra-low and said they were prepared to do more if needed to stimulate the sluggish economy.

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