11 Dec 2008

Asia-Pacific shares gain

10:02 pm on 11 December 2008

Shares in Asia and the Pacific gained slightly on Thursday as aggressive rate cuts and government actions to revive economic growth improved confidence, but plenty of other worrisome signals remained.

Japanese share prices closed up 0.70% after overnight gains on Wall Street and US policymakers approves a $US15 billion bailout of the troubled auto industry.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index rose 60.31 points to 8,720.55. The broader Topix index of all first section issues climbed 14.70 points, or 1.76%, to 849.25.

The New Zealand market inched higher, up 15 points or 0.56%, to 2726 on turnover of $53 million. Top stocks all gained, with Telecom up 2 cents to $2.40, Contact rose 2c to $6.87 and Fletcher Building up 18c to $5.83.

But the Australian market closed about 1% weaker with losses in most sectors as traders looked to make short-term gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended down 42.7 points, or 1.17% at 3,598, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 39.1 points, or 1.09%, to 3,534.2.

Taiwan ended flat, but South Korea's benchmark index gained 0.8%.

Central banks are acting aggressively, helping ease some concerns about the global economy, especially as inflation drops worldwide. China on Thursday said its consumer price index fell to a 22-month low.

South Korea on Thursday cut interest rates by 1 percentage point, helping Seoul shares and the won currency hit around one-month highs. But plenty of uncertainties still remain, and not all investors were willing to add on risk.

Oil extended the previous day's rally on signs top exporter Saudi Arabia had slashed supplies to customers, reaching $US44.22 a barrel.