20 Mar 2009

Europe stocks close higher

8:01 am on 20 March 2009

European shares closed higher on Thursday in response to a plan by the US Federal Reserve to pump $US1 trillion into the economy of the United States.

The fed is to buy long term government debt and expand its purchases of mortgage bonds.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares provisionally closed up 0.6% at 715.17 points.

The financial sector saw the major gains: Barclays gained 17.2%. HSBC, Standard Chartered, UBS, UniCredit and Credit Suisse were 2.6% - 6.8% higher.

Prudential rose 13.4% after the insurance group reported a rise of 17% in annual profit. Allianz, Axa and Zurich Financial were up 6.3% - 12.6%.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 4,043.46 points, up 47.14 or 1.18%.

In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 2,776.99 points, up 16.65 or 0.6%. The Swiss market index closed at 4,794.63 points, up 11.31 or 0.24%.

In Milan, the All Share Mibtel index closed at 11,990 points, up 236 or 2.01%.

In London, the FTSE 100 closed at 3,816.93 points, up 11.94 or 0.31%.

Other markets

In Japan, the Nikkei ended down 26.21 points, 0.33%, at 7,945.96 after briefly rising above 8,000.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was up 0.1%, or 13.75 points, at 13,130.92.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index gained 33.9 points, 0.98%, to close at 3,480.2 - its highest since 16 February.

The All Ordinaries increased 30.6 points, or 0.9%, to 3416.8.

In New Zealand, the NZX50 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.