20 Dec 2008

Wall St rises after aid to auto industry

11:08 am on 20 December 2008

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Friday after the U.S. government announced a $US17.4 billion lifeline to automakers in Detroit.

But the Dow ended lower, due to another fall in energy shares, as oil prices sank for the sixth day in a row.

Initial optimism over government assistance to automakers sent stocks up as much as 2%, but this faded as investors digested terms of the bailout.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 25.88 points, or 0.3%, to end at 8,579.11.

But Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2.60 points, or 0.29%, to 887.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 11.95 points, or 0.77%, to close at 1,564.32.

The S&P Retailers Index fell 1.1% as heavy snow and bad weather across large parts of the United States threatened to damage sales during the last weekend of what is expected to be a weak holiday shopping season.

Shares in discount retailer Target slid 2.8% to $US34.42 and department store operator JC Penney shares lost 4% to $US19.92, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Volume was high on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 2.42 billion shares changing hands - well above last year's estimated daily average of roughly 1.90 billion.

About 2.67 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq. Last year's daily average was 2.17 billion.

European markets

European stocks ended lower on Friday in a volatile session, as commodity shares tracked falls in crude and copper prices.

Emergency government funding of up to $US17.4 billion announced for the US auto industry, had little impact on trading.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.45% at 823.37 points. The index is down more than 46% to date this year.

Copper hit a four-year low. Anglo American slumped nearly 9% and Rio Tinto lost 6.5%.

Fiat, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Renault were down 3.7% - 7.8%.

In Paris, the CAC 40 ended 0.26% lower at 3,225.90 points while the Frankfurt Dax plunged 1.26% to close at 4,696.70 points.

In London, the FTSE 100 index was down 1.01% at 4,286.93 points.

Earlier in Japan, the Nikkei index shed 78.71 points to 8,588.52 despite a rate cut by the Bank of Japan.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended 370.30 points lower at 15,127.51.

Australia & NZ

The Australian share market posted a modest gain on Friday.

The S&P/ASX200 index gained 34.5 points, or 0.96%, at 3615.7, while the All Ordinaries index rose 25.5 points, or 0.72%, to 3547.2.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March share price index contract was 31 points higher to 3603 on a volume of 3,633 contracts.

After being flat for much of the day, the New Zealand top 50 index closed up 12 points to 2707 on turnover of $63 million.

Telecom closed down 1 cent to $2.34, Contact Energy gained 27c to $7.20, Fletcher Building gained 8c to $6.15 and Hallenstein Glasson, which held its annual meeting on Friday, lost 1c to $2.27.

New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay lost 15c or 20% to 60cc after issuing an earnings downgrade. The Warehouse gained 13c to $3.58.

The dollar was trading at 59.35 US cents, 84.28 Australian cents, 38.19 pence, 51.95 yen and 0.4109 euro. The Trade Weighted Index was 56.62.