20 Nov 2008

Asia-Pacific stocks sag

6:59 am on 20 November 2008

Stocks in Asia and the Pacific edged down on Wednesday, as plea from American automakers for a bailout from Washington highlighted how the financial crisis is hurting the global economy.

Market players were spooked as executives at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler gave a dire warning to the US Congress about their outlook while asking for $US25 billion of funds.

Plans by Citigroup to slash 52,000 jobs underscored the financial sector woes, with shares of the second-largest bank in the United States falling to a 13-year low on worries that its efforts to return to health may not be enough.

Japanese stocks fell amid grim earnings from the country's biggest bank.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group suffered a 61% drop in quarterly profit and a report said Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group aimed to raise $US4.2 billion in capital.

The Nikkei 225 stock average lost 55.19 points, or 0.7%, to close at 8,273.22. The broader Topix index lost 1% to 827.43.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan fell 0.3%. The South Korean won hit a three-week low and the KOSPI index shed 1.9%.

NZ market

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 closed down 8 points to 2706, on turnover of $67 million.

Telecom closed up 1 cent to $2.35, while Contact Energy fell 5c to $7.15 and Fletcher Building lost 2c to $5.70. Air New Zealand lost 2c to 89c cents after announcing it intends to cut 200 jobs.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.7% on a drop in non-financial shares after authorities lifted a ban on short selling. The All Ordinaries index shed 29.9 points, or 0.85%.