13 Dec 2008

Wall Street picks up

11:36 am on 13 December 2008

Stocks in the United States recouped early losses and ended higher Friday after a pledge from the White House to stave off the collapse of Detroit carmakers.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.59 points, or 0.75%, to end at 8,629.68.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 6.14 points, or 0.7%, to 879.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 32.84 points, or 2.18%, to 1,540.72.

Volume was low on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.44 billion shares changing hands. About 1.91 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq.

The market opened weaker as last-ditch talks on a $US14 billion package for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, backed by Democrats and the White House, broke down late Thursday.

However, the White House said it was considering tapping into a $US700 billion financial rescue fund to keep the industry alive.

US retail sales fell for the fifth consecutive month in November, dipping 1.8%. Wholesale prices fell 2.2%.

Earlier, European shares ended lower despite an announcement by the European Union of a 200 billion euro ($US260 billion) economic stimulus plan.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 2.8% lower at 829.65 points. It is down about 45% to date this year.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 4,663.37 points, down 103.83 or 2.18%. In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 3,213.6 points, down 92.53 or 2.8%.

The Swiss market index closed at 5,636.17 points, down 93.68 or 1.63%.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 ended down 108.34 points, or 2.5%, at 4,280.35.

Other markets

In Japan, the Nikkei closed down 484.68 points, 5.56%, at 8,235.87.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended the session down 855.51 points, 5.48%, at 14,758.39.

In Australia, stocks fell 2.43%. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 87.6 points to 3,510.4, adding to a fall of 1.2% on Thursday.

In New Zealand, the market was 49 points, or 1.8%, lower to 2676 on turnover of $56 million.

Top stocks all fell, with Fletcher Building down 13c to $5.70, Contact Energy was down 9c at $6.78 and Telecom lost 8c to $2.32.