US turmoil gives local market cold feet

THE sharemarket lost more than 2 per cent this week, thanks to a couple of wild nights on the US market.

THE sharemarket lost more than 2 per cent this week, thanks to a couple of wild nights on the US market.

Analysts said the market was a little directionless, and with traders unwilling to make a big bet either way, the market drifted lower, closing below 4500 points 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 has been a little bit disappointing, and that says something about the world economy."

For the week, the S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 98.6 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 4472.4 points. The week ended with a disappointing slump yesterday, weighed down by Asian stocks.

Local resource stocks took a hit after new data showed Chinese 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."

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

Billabong shares rose 8.5? to 93.5? after the outgoing chairman said the company remained open to takeover offers as it tried to revive its fortunes.

Echo Entertainment slipped 40? to $3.57 after chairman John O'Neill said he was relaxed about billionaire James Packer opening a rival casino in a proposed $1 billion six-star resort in Sydney.

Crown slipped 23? to $9.46 despite Mr Packer getting approval to go ahead with the project.

GrainCorp rose $3.35 to $12.20. The company's shares have soared more than 37 per cent since US-based food processing company Archer Daniels Midland Company proposed a $2.68 billion takeover..

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 increasing its first-half profit, thanks to improved financial market conditions for its investment businesses.

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

Whitehaven Coal fell 19?, to $3.05, after the miner said it was set to become a major player. With AAP

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