Stocks fall amid weak sentiment

The local sharemarket lost more than 2 per cent this week thanks to a couple of wild nights on Wall Street.

The local sharemarket lost more than 2 per cent this week thanks to a couple of wild nights on Wall Street.

Analysts said the market was a little directionless through the week and with traders unwilling to make a major bet either way, stocks drifted lower to close below the 4500 points level for the first time in eight days yesterday.

Meanwhile, the US reporting season continued to disappoint.

"We've got the US elections, we've got Chinese leadership change, and we've still got all the issues with Europe swirling around," BBY analyst Henry Jennings said.

"We were all getting excited because we thought the US earnings season was going to be positive, but the majority of companies there have disappointed. Even Apple [the world's biggest company] has been a little bit disappointing, and that says something about the world economy."

For the week, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 98.6 points, or 2.1 per cent, to end at 4472.4 points.

Weighed down by Asian stocks, the market closed yesterday with a disappointing slump.

Local resource stocks took a hit after data showed China's economic growth slowed for the seventh consecutive quarter in September. But economists said the numbers were better than they first appeared.

"Real GDP growth [in China] eased to 7.4 per cent, in line with both our own forecasts and market expectations, and was the slowest pace in 3? years," NAB's James Glenn said.

"However, quarter on quarter growth came in stronger than expected and revisions to previous quarters suggest the near term growth momentum has actually improved ... year-ended growth in production, retail sales, fixed investment and exports all accelerated in the month. Total social financing picked up as well."

For the week, ANZ lost 43?, at $25.23, after the bank's chief, Mike Smith, warned that small and medium businesses could be in for more economic pain if the Australian dollar strengthened again.

Billabong share rose 8.5? to 93.5?, after the outgoing chairman of the embattled surf-wear brand said the company remained open to takeover offers.

Echo Entertainment slipped 40?, to $3.57, after its chairman, John O'Neill, said he was relaxed about billionaire James Packer opening a rival casino within a proposed $1 billion six-star resort in Sydney. Crown slipped 23?, at $9.46, despite Mr Packer getting approval to go ahead with the project.

Graincorp rose $3.35, at $12.20. The company's shares have soared more than 37 per cent after US-based food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland Company proposed a $2.68 billion takeover of the Australian grains marketer.

Insurance Australian Group fell 10? to $4.51, after it said it was on track to achieve its full-year financial forecasts after its first quarter performance.

Macquarie Group fell 46? to $30.85, despite the bank increasing its first half profit, thanks to improved financial market conditions for its investment businesses.

Southern Cross Media rose 0.5? to $1.025, after the company said it hoped the worst of the industry-wide advertising slump was behind it, and that it was expecting a flat profit result for 2012-13.

Ten Media Holdings slipped 0.5? to 27.5?, after the group received a reduced offer for its outdoor advertising business Eye Corp from its private equity suitor.

Tatts Group fell 16? to $2.74, after the Australian Shareholders' Association said it was time for a new chairman at the gambling firm.

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