1 Apr 2009

Markets mixed ahead of G20 summit

10:35 pm on 1 April 2009

World stocks kicked off a new quarter on Wednesday with strong gains in Japan but New Zealand and Australian indexes were lower at the close.

Investors were firmly focused on the meeting of G20 leaders in Britain due to begin on Wednesday, looking for more confirmation there will be coordinated efforts to ward off a prolonged slump in world economic growth.

In Japan's, the benchmark Nikkei index, which contains major Japanese automakers, was up 2.99% at the close, following a rebound on Wall Street, dealers said.

The headline Nikkei-225 index gained 242.38 points to 8,351.91, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares strengthened 20.16 points or 2.61% to 793.82.

MSCI's all-country world index was down slightly on the day having risen 7.94% in March. Its emerging market counterpart was up 0.5%. It gained 14.15% in March, the highest monthly rise since December 1993.

In New Zealand, interest rates on local money markets tumbled on Wednesday after the Reserve Bank said recent rises in interest rates were not warranted.

The benchmark index fell 21 points, or 0.82%, to 2569 on turnover of $74 million.

The main trading banks resisted lowering their fixed mortgage rates, despite comments by the Reserve Bank calling recent rises into question.

Fletcher Building was up 20 cents to $6.20 after announcing it is looking to raise between $465 million and $505 million in new equity, of which $405 million will be through an underwritten institutional placement.

Telecom was 2c higher to $2.30, but Contact Energy fell16c to $5.56.

The Australian share market finished steady on Wednesday after a volatile trading session.

At the 1615 AEDT close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 2.4 points, or 0.07%, to 3,579.7, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 5.1 points, or 0.14%, to 3,527.2.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.42% lower on Wednesday as the index swung in and out of negative territory with investors looking for direction, dealers said. The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed down 56.48 points at 13,519.54.