8 Jan 2009

Europe shares slip on US job fears

8:24 am on 8 January 2009

European shares fell on Wednesday, due to weak employment data in the United States and falling commodity stocks.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 1.3% down at 877.85 points.

Employers in the United States shed 693,000 jobs in December, in addition to 476,000 jobs lost in November.

Energy stocks were the biggest losers as crude oil fell 6.7% in price.

Miners also retreated as metal prices fell. Copper lost 3.2%. Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Eurasian Natural Resources and Rio Tinto were down 4.4% - 6%.

Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS were down 3.9% and 1.5% respectively after confirming they had some exposure to chemicals company LyondellBasell, whose US unit has filed for bankruptcy.

Frankfurt - the DAX index ended at 4,937.47 points, down 88.84 or 1.77%.

In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 3,346.09 points, down 50.13 or 1.48%. The Swiss market index closed at 5,761.69 points, down 37.62 or 0.65%.

In Britain the FTSE 100 closed down 131.41 points, 2.8%, at 4,507.51, after rising 10% in the previous six sessions.

The Bank of England began a two-day rate policy meeting on Wednesday and is due to announce its next interest rate decision on Thursday. The bank is expected cut rates by 50 basis points to 1.5%.

Other markets

In Tokyo, the Nikkei climbed 158.40 points to 9,239.24 - its highest finish since 5 November.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index finished 522.05 points lower at 14,987.46 after opening up 1.6%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index gained 37 points to close at 3,779.7, adding to a gain of 1.5% on Tuesday to push the market to its highest close in more than two months.