21 Aug 2008

Sharemarket flat

9:13 pm on 21 August 2008

The New Zealand sharemarket was flat on Thursday.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was down 1.8 points to 3330 on turnover of $89m.

Market heavyweights Telecom were down 3 cents to $3.26, Contact Energy unchanged at $8.60 and Fletcher Building up 12c at $7.15.

Auckland Internatinal Airport was up 3c to $2.01 after underlying profit rose 3% to $113m in the year to June.

Mainfreight rose 8c to $7.20 after profit rose 40% to $8.2m in the June quarter while New Zealand Oil and Gas was up 2c to $1.47.

The Warehouse was up 4c to $3.49.

In currency markets, the kiwi's trading at 71.35 US cents, 81.80 Australian, 38.25 pence, 78.18 Yen, and 0.4828 euro. The Trade Weighted Index stands at 66.35.

Australian index falls

The Australian share market closed lower after falls from the financial sector, with Babcock & Brown suffering a heavy loss amid a drop in interim profit.

At the close, the 200 index was down 54.3 points, or 1.1%, to 4875.2, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 47.9 points, or 0.96% to 4949.6.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the September share price index contract was 42 points lower at 4840, on a volume of 20,398 contracts.

National Australia Bank lost 55c to $23.55, ANZ fell 44c to $15.59, Commonwealth Bank dropped 50c to $40.60 and Westpac shed 71c to $21.66.

Stocks fall in Asia

Asian stocks fell on Thursday on gloom about the ability of exporters to weather a widespread economic slowdown, while the US dollar slipped as oil prices rose to above $116 a barrel and halted a rally in the currency.

The US housing market, the source of a financial crisis that threatens to drag all Group of Seven rich nations into a recession, remained a chief concern, as shares of top mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tumbled to their lowest in nearly 20 years.

Japan's Nikkei share average slipped 0.3%, within striking distance of chart support around 12,670, below which would mark a 4½ month low.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 1.3% after dipping to a 1-year low on Wednesday, with a fall in China Mobile shares leading the way.

The Shanghai composite index slipped 1.7%, unable to sustain momentum after posting its biggest single-day rise in four months on Wednesday.

European markets

European shares fell to a three-week low on Thursday, erasing gains made in the previous session, as a rising oil price revived inflation concerns while banks fell on renewed credit worries.

IKB jumped 10% on news that US private equity firm Lone Star was to take a 90.8% stake in the lender, Germany's most prominent casualty of the subprime crisis.

At 0807 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 1.1% at 1,152.47 points. The index gained 0.5% on Wednesday.

Banks were among the biggest losers, with HBOS down 1.9%, Fortis down 2.5% and Royal Bank of Scotland down 2.1%. The DJ Stoxx banking index was down 1.6%.

"The price of oil is going up again, so oil-related stocks might do well but that's a different story for the broad market," says Rik Zwaneveld, trader at AFS Brokers, in Amsterdam.