Global woes keep market lower

The local bourse lost ground for the third-straight day yesterday, compounding a rough couple of weeks for shareholders, as traders remained anxious about the fate of Greece and the prospects for Chinese growth.

The local bourse lost ground for the third-straight day yesterday, compounding a rough couple of weeks for shareholders, as traders remained anxious about the fate of Greece and the prospects for Chinese growth.

For the week, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lost 16.6 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 4029.8, while the All Ordinaries fell 17.64 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 4081.2.

Europe has caught up with Australia this month: so far the ASX200 has lost more than 360 points, or 8.2 per cent the Australian dollar has fallen about US6.65? in three weeks.

Investors will now be waiting to see how European and US markets round off their week.

After two days of falls on the local sharemarket, things started positively yesterday after Mario Monti, Italy's Prime Minister, said Greece would likely stay in the eurozone. His comments tipped Wall Street into positive territory.

But by midday things turned south on the local market after reports China's biggest banks might miss their loan targets for the first time in seven years.

Resource stocks struggled, with heavyweight BHP Billiton falling 38?, or 1.2 per cent, to $31.61, and Rio Tinto declining 43? to $55.93.

The endless uncertainty about global markets saw financial stocks slip backwards, with the major banks all closing down. Westpac was the worst performer, shedding 27?, or 1.32 per cent, to $20.12.

"The fear of fallout from Greece - [investors] are connecting that with banks and everything else," Stuart Smith, senior client adviser at Bell Potter Securities, said. "The market is now pitching to the retail investor to keep their money in the bank by virtue of the yield."

For the week, Myer shares were down 18?, at $1.97, after the retailer said it would offer discounts of up to 60 per cent this winter, forcing shareholders to cringe but bargain hunters to celebrate.

Qantas rose 2.5? to $1.45 after the airline said it would boost the number of its east coast flights, providing almost 900,000 more seats a year.

BHP gained 15? to $31.61 for the week, even though more than 3000 coalminers have started a week-long strike in Queensland's Bowen Basin as an 18-month dispute over working conditions rolls on.

James Hardie climbed 31? to $7.36 after posting an improved full-year profit due to a favourable ruling in a lengthy tax dispute.

Elders shares slipped half a cent to 20?, despite returning to profitability with first-half earnings of $40.5 million.

Iluka Resources climbed 62? to $12.80, despite backing away from earlier pledges to increase dividends. The mineral sands miners still forecast a decent increase in earnings this year.

Orica shares slipped 16?, to $25.03. The chemicals company is part of a joint venture that will build a $815 million ammonium nitrate plant on the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region.

PMP gained 1.5? to 38.5?. The printer and publishers have now added more than 10 per cent in value after the company confirmed ticketing and labelling group TMA was behind a recent takeover bid.

Fairfax shares slipped 1.5? to an all-time low at 62.5?.

ALL ORDS AUSTRALIA

HIGH 4173.4

LOW 4081.2

4081.2

-17.6 (0.4%)

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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