15 Jan 2009

NZX avoids worst of world slippage

8:33 pm on 15 January 2009

The New Zealand sharemarket closed on Thursday 44 points or 1.58% down at 2742 and now stands almost exactly where it did when the market reopened after the New Year on January 5.

This compared favourably with the Australian sharemarket, which had its biggest one-day fall so far this year, and with sharp falls in London (5%) and New York (nearly 3%) the previous day.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 157.5 points or 4.27% to 3529.5 and the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 4.07% to 3476.8.

Japan's Nikkei stock index slumped 4.92% by the close on Thursday while the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan was heading for its biggest daily fall since mid-November.

Kiwi dollar 'on long road down'

Meanwhile, the New Zealand dollar was buying only US53.40c at one point on Thursday, its lowest level in five weeks. It eventually closed at US55.60c.

NZPA reports that Imre Speizer, senior market strategist at Westpac, sees the combination of a bleak NZIER report and a credit-rating warning by Standard & Poors as a turning point.

"This is the turning point people were waiting for," Mr Speizer says.

"We are now on the long road down."

He predicts the dollar will go as low as US45c in the next four months.

The NZ dollar also slipped against the euro (from 0.4192 to 0.4055) and the yen (49.73 to 47.38). The Trade Weighted Index was at 53.30 from 55.16 on Wednesday.

The Australian dollar closed two US cents weaker at US65.63c, the lowest finish in five weeks.