6 Mar 2009

Asia-Pacific markets tumble

9:02 pm on 6 March 2009

Markets in the Asia-Pacific tumbled on Friday, following heavy losses on Wall Street where shares fell to a new 12-year low.

In Japan, the Nikkei dropped 3.5% to a four-month low after US indexes plunged and hopes faded for fresh Chinese economic stimulus measures.

The Nikkei-225 fell 260.39 points to end at 7,173.10, the worst closing level since 27 October, when it ended at a 26-year low of 7,162.90.

Stocks across the board fell, including big exporters such as car and electronic manufacturers.

Investors took their cue from Wall Street where the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 4.09% on Thursday to finish at its lowest level since April 1997, triggered by continuing concern over the health of the US financial system and troubled car giant General Motors.

Markets were disappointed that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao did not announce any fresh stimulus measures in his annual "state of the nation" address.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan was down 0.5%, while Hong Kong shed 1.6%.

In Australia, the market closed at its weakest levels in almost six years, weighed down by banks and resources stocks following a drop in oil and base metals prices and the plunge on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 43 points, or 1.35%, at 3,145.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 37.1 points, or 1.18%, to 3,111.7. It was the S&P/ASX 200's weakest close since mid-July 2003.

New Zealand's benchmark index was down 20 points, or 0.82%, at 2471 on market turnover of $66 million.

Market heavyweight Telecom was down 7 cents at $2.39, Fletcher Building fell 12c to $5.15 but Contact Energy rose 4c to $5.55.