4 Mar 2009

European stocks wilt

8:12 am on 4 March 2009

European stock markets closed lower on Tuesday.

The FTSEurofirst 300 fell 1.9% to 669.64 points - its lowest close since the index's inception in July 1997. It has fallen for seven of the last eight sessions.

The STOXX 600 index fell 1.8%, having hit lows not seen since late 1996.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 3,690.72 points, down 19.35 or 0.52%.

In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 2,554.55 points, down 26.91 or 1.04%. The Swiss market index closed at 4,358 points, down 80.27 or 1.81%.

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 113.74 points, 3.1%, at 3,512.09, after tumbling 5.3% on Monday.

The index is down more than 20% to date this year. It fell by more than 31% in 2008 - its worst year since the index was launched in 1984.

The energy sector and banks were well down. Lloyds Banking Group fell 8% amid continuing fears of nationalisation and Barclays shed 6.7%.

Royal Bank of Scotland lost 4.4% and HSBC fell 1% after announcing on Monday that it needs $US17.7 billion in cash.

However, Standard Chartered rose by 7.3% after reporting a rise of 19% in full year profits before tax to $US4.8 billion.

Other markets

In Tokyo, the Nikkei was down 50.43 points, 0.69%, to 7,229.72 - its lowest finish since 27 October.

Shares in Hong Kong ended 2.3 percent lower after HSBC shed nearly a fifth of its value, losing around $US17 billion in market capitalisation. The Hang Seng Index was down 283.58 points lower at 12,033.88 - its lowest level since November 2008.

Stocks in Australia recovered two-thirds of their losses to close down 0.95% after the Reserve Bank held interest rates steady at 3.25%.

The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 30.9 points to close at 3,219.2. However, this was its lowest close since 16 December, 2003.

The All Ordinaries index lost 32.4 points, or 1.01%, to 3171.4 - its lowest close since 1 October 2003.

In New Zealand, share prices closed 2.56% down in light trade on Tuesday.

The NZX 50 index dropped 63 points to 2417 on turnover worth $41 million.

Contact Energy fell 22 cents to $5.49, Fletcher Building was down 8c at $5.15 and Telecom was 4c lower at $2.26.