3 Feb 2009

Markets little changed despite efforts to bolster economies

9:13 pm on 3 February 2009

Australia slashed rates and unveiled a $A42.billion stimulus and the Bank of Japan said it would buy up to $US11 billion of shares held by banks, as authorities stepped up efforts to revive foundering economies.

The Australian share market closed slightly higher, with financial stocks gaining ground following the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate cut of 100 basis points to 3.25% and the government announcing the boost for the economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended up 11.3 points, or 0.32%, at 3,508.7 on Tuesday while the broader All Ordinaries index was 5.6 points stronger, up 0.16%, at 3,449.1.

But Japanese share prices closed down 0.62% on Tuesday as buying on the central bank's share-purchasing scheme was short-lived, brokers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index lost 48.47 points to end at 7,825.51. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares dropped 4.06 points, or 0.52%, to 773.79.

In New Zealand, the benchmark index closed up 9 points, or 0.32%, to 2780 on turnover of $72 million.

Top stocks were mixed, with Contact Energy up 2 cents to $6.88 but Telecom was down 2c to $2.67 and Fletcher Building lost 4c to $5.54.

Retailers The Warehouse gained 9c to $3.74, while Briscoe Group was up 4c to 74c after posting a drop in its fourth quarter sales.