Poor retail figures join eurozone in dragging down market

THE sharemarket has closed lower in the wake of weak retail trade data, reports that China's government may not stimulate economic growth as much as hoped for and continued worries about the eurozone.

THE sharemarket has closed lower in the wake of weak retail trade data, reports that China's government may not stimulate economic growth as much as hoped for and continued worries about the eurozone.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 20.2 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4094.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 19.5 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4148.7.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said several factors were behind the fall on the local stock exchange yesterday.

"But the over-arching theme is that there's just no confidence out there," he said.

Spain was overtaking Greece as the main worry in the eurozone, with investors focused on plans to recapitalise Spain's ailing banks, he said.

Also, China's state-run Xinhua news agency had reported the government did not plan to introduce economic stimulus measures on the same scale it did in 2008. "That really did take the wind out of the sails of the resources sector," Mr Shamu said. "We also had the retail sales figures coming through weaker than expected."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a 0.2 per cent fall in retail spending last month, compared with economists' forecasts of an increase of 0.2 per cent.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton fell 20? to $32.17, and Rio Tinto fell 79? to $57.35.

Among the major banks, Westpac fell 13? to $20.42, National Australia Bank rose a cent to $23.82, ANZ rose 3? to $20.97, and Commonwealth Bank declined 14? to $49.74.

In the retail sector, department store owner David Jones fell 5? to $2.25, and Myer lost a cent to fall to $1.98.

Wesfarmers declined 6? to $28.95 after it said it plans to increase the size of its Coles supermarkets as it continues its battles with Woolworths.

Among other stocks, casino operator Crown lost 5? to $8.53 after James Packer started lobbying for former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett to take Echo Entertainment's chairman John Story's spot on the board. Echo declined a cent to $4.34.

Fairfax Media was 0.5? lower at 66.5? after the troubled media company announced 66 local jobs would be moved to New Zealand.

Facilities management firm Programmed Maintenance Services rose 8? to $2.38 after the company almost tripled its profit in the past 12 months.

Preliminary national turnover was 1.49 billion shares worth $3.56 billion, with 524 stocks down, 416 up and 354 unchanged.

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