23 Mar 2009

Asian markets surge as US unveils bank plan

10:15 pm on 23 March 2009

Asian markets surged on Monday and high-yielding currencies advanced on the yen after details were issued on a United States plan to rid banks of up to $US1 trillion of toxic assets.

The White House said it would put in as much as $US100 billion into a bailout fund and give attractive financing to private investors to buy highly illiquid assets from banks.

This sent dealers diving back into equities and selling safe havens such as gold and US Treasuries.

The Nikkei share average closed up 3.39%, climbing 269.57 points to end at 8,215.53, its highest close since 29 January.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan was up 3.5%.

In Hong Kong, share prices closed 4.78% higher. The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 613.91 points to 13,447.42.

The Australian share market closed more than 2% higher, driven by firmer energy, resource and financial stocks and news of the US plan for banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 added 84.5 points, or 2.44%, to close at 3,550.3, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 78.1 points, or 2.29%, to 3,483.1.

New Zealand's benchmark index bucked the trend, down 7 points, or 0.29%, to 2591 on turnover of $62 million.

Top stocks all fell. Telecom was down 2 cents to $2.31, Fletcher Building was 3c lower to $6.09, while Contact Energy slid 10c to $6.