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AAP

2012-12-31

A roundup of trading on major world markets.

NEW YORK - US stocks sank for a fifth straight day Friday, showing more doubts that politicians will be able to agree a deal to fix the fiscal cliff with only days before the year-end deadline.

Shares were cautiously lower for most of the day after President Barack Obama returned from his vacation early to try to broker a deal with Democrat and Republican congressional leaders in the White House.

But without any positive signs late in the day and the weekend looming, traders gave up and sold off at a stronger pace in the last half hour.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 158.20 points or 1.21 per cent lower at 12,938.11.

The broad-market S&P 500 lost 15.67 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,402.43, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 25.60 points, or 0.86 per cent to 2,960.31.

LONDON - European stock markets have dropped and the euro has fallen versus the dollar, the final trading day of the year for the Frankfurt index.

Equities were downbeat on Friday in the absence of a deal to avert the US "fiscal cliff" of sharp tax hikes and spending cuts.

London's FTSE 100 index of top companies ended the week with a loss of 0.49 per cent at 5,925.37 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 fell 0.57 per cent to 7,612.39 points, though it ended the year with an overall gain of more than 29 per cent.

In Paris, the CAC 40 dropped by 1.47 per cent to 3,620.25 points, in part on profit-taking after earlier reaching its highest level for the year.

The markets in London and Paris will hold half sessions on Monday.

In Milan the FTSE Mib index was down by 0.82 per cent at 16,273 points, and in Madrid the Ibex 35 shed 1.81 per cent to 8,131 points.

TOKYO - Asian shares have risen on hopes of a last-minute deal to avert the US fiscal cliff, despite warnings from a leading Democrat that an agreement is unlikely just days before a year-end deadline.

Expectations for more aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan continued to weigh on the yen, which was sitting at more than two-year lows against the dollar.

In its last trading day of the year Tokyo's Nikkei on Friday climbed 0.70 per cent to highs not seen since before last year's March 11 quake-tsunami disaster. The index ended 72.20 points up at 10,395.18. It rose 22.9 per cent for the year.

Hong Kong added 0.21 per cent, or 46.81 points, to end at 22,666.59, while Shanghai put on 1.24 per cent, or 27.35 points, to 2,233.25.

WELLINGTON - New Zealand shares rose, pushing the NZX 50 Index to a five-year high, led by stocks that are among broker picks for 2013, such as PGG Wrightson and Ryman Healthcare.

The NZX 50 rose 15.45 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4080.90, the highest close since December 2007, bringing its gain this year to 24 per cent. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 12 fell and 16 were unchanged. Turnover was a lower-than-average $57 million, reflecting reduced trading during the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

Wrightson, the nation's biggest rural services company, gained 4.8 per cent to 44 cents, the highest close since September 2011.

It was among three companies singled out in an NZ Herald survey of brokers this week for gains in 2013.