9 Dec 2008

Asia-Pacific stocks inch higher

9:06 pm on 9 December 2008

Asian stocks inched higher on Tuesday to hit a one-month high, but gains were kept in check as hopes for big government spending to revive growth were offset by investors shying away from risk in wrapping up a brutal year.

US crude oil prices were little changed at $US43.65 a barrel after rebounding from a four-year low touched last week.

Japan's Sony Corp said it would slash 8,000 jobs, scale back investments and pull out of unprofitable businesses as it aims to cut $US1.1 billion in costs.

Japanese stocks ended 0.80% higher on Tuesday. The benchmark Nikkei-225 index gained 66.82 points to 8,395.87, while the broader Topix index climbed 5.86 points, or 0.72%, to 817.94.

In New Zealand, the market rose nearly 1%, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index up 25 points to close at 2725 on turnover of $98 million.

Top stocks were all higher. Telecom was up 1 cent at $2.32, Contact Energy rose 24c to $6.95 and Fletcher Building added 24c to $5.62. The Warehouse was up 4c to $3.28, while Sky Television was 8c higher at $3.90.

But the Australian share market ignored the strong rally on Wall Street to close lower on Tuesday after heavy falls on local bank stocks.

At the 1620 AEDT close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had lost 27.3 points, or 0.75%, to 3,604.3, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 20.1 points, or 0.57%, at 3,533.7.

On Monday, the Dow Jones rose 298.76, or 3.46%, to 8,934.18. Other markets soared as US authorities thrashed out a rescue plan for struggling automakers and president-elect Barack Obama said he would undertake the biggest infrastructure spending since the 1950s.