Stocks turn down in wait for euro news

STOCKS extended early losses to close lower yesterday on negative leads from US and European markets.

STOCKS extended early losses to close lower yesterday on negative leads from US and European markets.

By the close, the S&P/ASX 200 Index had shed 38.9 points, or 0.92 per cent, at 4205.6.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop said buyers were in short supply as investors paused for developments in efforts to resolve the euro-zone debt crisis.

Turnover was 1.46 billion shares worth $3.59 billion, with 413 stocks up, 568 down and 312 steady.

Mr Bishop said investors were considering the extent to which the burden of the debt crisis would be shared by European taxpayers and European banks.

"Clearly the banks are heading towards being recapitalised in Europe, but that's going to come at a price," he said.

Mr Bishop said he expected the market to trade flat until European regulators could provide investors with a "solid, readable plan" for the euro zone.

Locally, every sector except utilities finished lower after copper, oil and gold prices fell in overseas trade on Thursday night.

Typically defensive stocks like health care and telecoms lost the least ground, trading down 0.22 per cent and 0.31 per cent respectively.

The materials sector was the worst performer, losing 1.84 per cent.

BHP Billiton fell 78?, or 2.1 per cent, to $36.86 and Rio Tinto lost $1.04, or 1.5 per cent, to $68.30.

The spot gold price closed down $US6.15 at $US1664.20 an ounce.

Energy stocks were also hit hard, shedding 0.97 per cent after world oil prices fell as traders fretted about slowing demand in China.

The big four retail banks all ended weaker, with Westpac

shedding the most. It closed down 14?, or 0.6 per cent, at $21.61.

The best performer among the top 100 stocks was hearing aid manufacturer Cochlear, which jumped $2.56, or 5 per cent, to $53.76.

Leighton Holdings shares lost 37?, or 1.8 per cent, to $20.27 after its offshore division was awarded an $US518 million contract by Iraq's South Oil Company to develop two offshore platforms.

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