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Shares dip as investors digest events in Europe

THE sharemarket closed slightly lower after energy stocks lost ground and Westpac and Macquarie Group traded ex-dividend.

THE sharemarket closed slightly lower after energy stocks lost ground and Westpac and Macquarie Group traded ex-dividend.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 7.7 points at 4273.4, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 7.2 points to 4335.3.

Jamie Spiteri, senior dealer with Shaw Stockbroking, said trading was subdued and the market had followed Wall Street and European markets lower on the back of the G20 meeting in France last week.

Political leaders in Greece sealed a historic deal at the weekend to form a national unity government to haul the country back from the brink of disaster.

"Markets are reacting to every news headline regarding Europe at the moment," Mr Spiteri said.

"At the end, it'll take some fairly committed political action for it all to be executed, and time for it all to be resolved. The market is hesitant over how long it will actually take to get a convincing resolution ... but there are some small steps in the right direction."

Westpac fell 97? to $21.11 as it traded ex-dividend, while Macquarie fell 97? to $23.04.

Other big commercial banks put in a mixed performance, with ANZ up 17? to $21.19, and the Commonwealth Bank up 29? at $49.32, while National Australia Bank dipped 1? to $25.18.

BHP Billiton eased 25? to $37.70 and rival mining giant Rio Tinto was down $1.17 at $68.80.

Oil and energy majors also sank into negative territory, with Woodside Petroleum down 57? to $36.10.

Explosives and mining services supplier Orica was a rare bright spot in the materials sector, up $1.11 to $25.41 after reporting a 4 per cent rise in underlying full-year profit.

Gold major Newcrest also moved higher, gaining 72? to $35.72.

The spot price of gold was $US1770.50 per ounce, up $US8.10.

Computershare surged $1.14, or 15.62 per cent, to $8.44 after announcing it was free to close the acquisition of the share owner services business of the Bank of New York Mellon.

National turnover was 1.55 billion securities worth $3.7 billion. The December share price index futures contract fell 4 points to 4,281.


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