23 Jan 2009

Europe shares fall

7:19 am on 23 January 2009

European shares fell for a fourth consecutive session on Thursday on jitters over gloomy earnings from Nokia and Microsoft.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 0.8% lower at 762.79 points.

The index is down 8% so far this year on the top of a 45% plunge in 2008.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 4219.42 points, down 41.73 or 0.98%. In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 2869.62 points, down 35.95 or 1.24%. The Swiss market index closed at 5329.44 points, up 25.27 or 0.48%.

Nokia fell 9% after a dive in its fourth-quarter profit. Th cellphone maker also warned that market volumes would shrink 10% this year as the economic slowdown hits consumer spending.

Microsoft reported disappointing results, saying it would slash up to 5,000 jobs and stop offering profit forecasts for the rest of the year.

But banks advanced after recent heavy losses: shares in KBC surged 50% after the Belgian banking and insurance group secured a 2 billion euro ($US2.58 billion) cash injection from the Flemish government. The stock had lost some 63% in the previous four sessions.

Commerzbank added 1.9%, Lloyds Banking Group rose 8.9% and UBS rose 5.3%.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 closed down 7.65 points, 0.2%, at 4,052.23. The index is down 8.6% this month after falling more than 31%.

Other markets

In Japan, the Nikkei rose 150.10 points, 1.9%, to close at 8,051.74.

Shares in Hong Kong bounced off a two-month low and closed with a slight gain. The Hang Seng Index's closed up 74.36 points, 0.6%, 12,657.99.

Stocks in Australia closed 1.3%. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 44 points to 3,486.8 after falling 4% in the previous two days.

The All Ordinaries index rose 37.1 points, or 1.09%, to 3,431.9.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 index closed up 29 points, or 1%, to 2734.