5 Dec 2008

European shares end lower despite rate cuts

7:33 am on 5 December 2008

European shares ended lower on Thursday despite steep cuts in interest rates by the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Riksbank in Sweden.

The Bank of England also warned that further measures would be required to hold the economy back from plunging into a deep recession.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.4% lower at 826.71 points in choppy trade. The index is down 45% to date this year.

The European Central Bank cut its rate by 0.75 percentage points to 2.5%.

Sweden took a record 1.75 percentage points off its policy rate to 2% and the Bank of England cut a percentage point off its base rate to bring it to 2% - the lowest level since 1951.

Market reaction indicated that even more sweeping moves may be needed to halt the worldwide economic slowdown.

Across Europe: Germany's DAX fell 0.07% and France's CAC 40 was 0.2% lower.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 closed down 6.35 points, or 0.2%, at 4,163.61 points.

In Frankfurt - the DAX index ended at 4564.23 points, down 3.01 or 0.07%. In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 3161.16 points, down 5.49 or 0.17%.

The Swiss market index closed at 5649.14 points, up 44.91 or 0.8%.

France on Thursday unveiled a 26 billion euro stimulus plan for its faltering economy as unemployment rose.

Other markets

In Japan, the Nikkei shed 79.86 points to close at 7,924.24, after rising as much as 1.3% earlier.

In Hong Kong, shares fell 0.6% as the Hang Seng Index closed 78.88 points lower at 13,509.78.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 1.4 points, or 0.04%, to end at 3,532.4.

The New Zealand share market gained slightly on Thursday, after the Reserve Bank lowered the Official Cash rate from 6.5% to 5% - the lowest level in five years.

The NZX 50 was up 23 points, or 0.88%, to 2730 at the close of trade.