19 Mar 2009

NZ, Australian markets higher, Nikkei slips

9:46 pm on 19 March 2009

New Zealand and Australian markets were higher on Thursday, but Japan's Nikkei index slipped for the first time in five days.

The benchmark New Zealand index was up 26 points, or 1.03%, to 2633.

Top shares were mixed. Telecom was up 5 cents to $2.45, while Contact Energy rose 10c to $6.04. Fletcher Building fell 13c at $5.92.

Nuplex remained on a trading halt as it conducts a $110 million dollar capital raising. It closed on Friday at $1.10 per share.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances was down 3c to 39 cents, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 9c to $3.20.

In Australia, the share market finished at a one-month high, boosted by financial stocks after US Federal Reserve-inspired Wall Street rally.

America's central bank announced it would start large-scale buying of government debt as part of an extra $US1 trillion injection into the ailing economy. It sparked a rally in government bonds and trouncing the US dollar.

The Fed said said it would buy up to $US300 billion of longer term US government debt over the next six months in the first operation on such a scale since the 1960s.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 90.88 points, or 1.23%, to 7,486.58 pn Wednesday.

The move stunned markets as few Fed watchers had expected it to follow Japan and Britain in pumping money directly into the economy so soon.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 33.9 points, or 0.98%, to close at 3480.2 on Thursday - the highest since 16 February, while the broader All Ordinaries increased 30.6 points, or 0.9%, to 3416.8.

But Japan's Nikkei index ended lower for the first time in five days, hit by profit-taking and a stronger yen, which is bad for exporters.

The Nikkei-225 index slipped 26.21 points, or 0.33%, to 7,945.96, a day after closing at a five-week high.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 0.10 points, or 0.01%, to 764.77.