Stocks edge lower on fears for Spain

THE sharemarket closed slightly lower yesterday as fears that Spain might need another financial bailout overshadowed weaker domestic inflation figures.

THE sharemarket closed slightly lower yesterday as fears that Spain might need another financial bailout overshadowed weaker domestic inflation figures.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 9.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 4123.9.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said investors were worried that a surge in Spain's borrowing costs above 7 per cent would be unaffordable for the debt-laden country if they stayed at that level for long.

"The bottom line is it's very difficult to aggressively reposition yourself into risk assets and equities while Spanish bond rates are where they are," he said. "The Spanish government is now being obliged to pay a borrowing cost that it won't be able to sustain over the medium term."

The release of lower than expected inflation figures did little to encourage investors.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed the consumer price index rose by 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, for an annual rate of 1.2 per cent. It had been expected to rise by 0.6 per cent for the quarter, for an annual rate of 1.3 per cent.

Among resource stocks, BHP Billiton dipped 8? to $30.85 while Rio Tinto lost 75? to $51.01.

OZ Minerals dumped 10? to $7.43 after announcing that its copper and gold production for the June quarter was down from output in the previous three months.

Atlas Iron sagged 6.5? to $1.685, despite saying it was on track to double production by the end of the year.

Sundance Energy dipped 5? to 45? as it recorded net production in the US of 43,170 barrels of oil equivalent for June, less than for the previous month.

The banks were mixed. Westpac declined 17? to $22.45, ANZ lost 11? to $22.64, National Australia Bank advanced 16? to $23.82 and Commonwealth firmed 8? to $54.86.

Macquarie Group fell 43? to $23.87, despite saying it expected an improved result for the 2013 financial year.

Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund rose 6? to $2.54 after APA Group lifted its bid price.

Gold closed at $US1584.64 an ounce in Australian trading, up $US7.44.

National turnover was 1.22 billion securities worth $3.53 billion, with 543 stocks down, 334 up and 350 unchanged.

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