Archive for December, 2008

Home prices plunge record 18 percent in October: S&P (Reuters)

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) –
Prices of U.S. single-family homes in October plunged a record 18.0 percent from a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released on Tuesday that indicated a U.S. housing market in the throes of a deep recession.

The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.2 percent in October from September. The price drops, both on a year-over-year and month-over-month basis, came in worse than expectations based on a Reuters survey of economists.

S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 2.1 percent in October from September for a 19.1 percent year-over-year drop, also a record.

"The bear market continues; home prices are back to their March, 2004 levels." David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Julie Haviv, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


European stocks rise as Tokyo ends shocking year (AFP)

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 | Finance News

European stock markets on Tuesday extended their pre-New Year rally, shrugging off overnight losses on Wall Street and news of Tokyo's worst 12-month performance since 1949.

In midday European trade, London was up 0.77 percent, Frankfurt jumped 1.45 percent and Paris climbed 0.67 percent.

"We cannot discount a reasonable rally in the first few weeks of 2009 as general valuations appear very fair at current levels," Capital Spreads analyst Simon Denham said regarding the outlook for London's stock market.

US stocks slid Monday in thin trade, weighed down by a spike in oil prices which rose in large part owing to the Israel-Hamas conflict, traders said.

Japanese share prices meanwhile closed the year Tuesday down 42.12 percent from 2007, the worst-ever annual fall since Tokyo's Nikkei index was set up in 1949, with the global economic crisis hitting hard.

The Nikkei gained 1.28 percent in a shortened session Tuesday.

"It was a year beyond our imagination," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

Global markets, already reeling from a credit crunch, went haywire in September when Wall Street investment giant Lehman Brothers collapsed under a mountain of debt.

"Since October, we have been exposed to harsh winds that we have rarely experienced," Tokyo Stock Exchange president Atsushi Saito told a ceremony to close the year's trading.

"In the long history of mankind, there have been many harsh economic slumps but they have been overcome," he said. "We want to make the next year a year in which we will move towards the future in a constructive manner."

Elsewhere in a mixed trading day for Asia, Hong Kong shed 0.7 percent, Seoul rose 0.6 percent, Singapore lost 0.56 percent and Sydney gained 0.9 percent.

Indian shares were up 1.92 percent on expectations of an economic stimulus package to be announced by the government, dealers said.

The Indian government is expected to unveil a second stimulus package soon, after it announced an extra four billion dollars in spending to boost the economy earlier this month.

In New York on Monday, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.37 percent, the tech-rich Nasdaq dropped 1.30 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 0.39 percent.

"The (US) stock market traded with broad-based weakness for virtually the entire session but was able to pare its losses to close well off its session low in another round of light trading volume," said analysts at

Investor sentiment was dampened after Kuwait scrapped a 17.4-billion-dollar deal with Dow Chemical to create a petrochemicals joint venture.

Analysts said the pullout, announced Sunday by the Kuwaiti government, could jeopardize the financing of Dow's agreed 18.8-billion-dollar acquisition of Rohm and Haas, a US specialty materials firm.


Pakistan shares fall another four pct (AFP)

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 | Finance News

Pakistan's main stock index continued its downward slide Tuesday, with shares shedding another four percent -- meaning the market has lost more than a third of its value in two weeks.

The KSE-100 shed 257.29 points to close at 6,037.38.

The market has now lost 34.3 percent of its value since December 15, when regulators at the Karachi Stock Exchange removed a "floor" on the benchmark index imposed in August to stop such losses.

Volume was at 118.66 million shares -- a major improvement over trade in recent days, but less than half of the 250 million shares traded daily last year.

Analysts say the government needs to unveil its oft-promised 20-billion-rupee (250-million-dollar) bailout package quickly for the market to recover.

"The market can stabilise only when the government comes forward with the promised bailout package," analyst Ahsan Mehnati said.

The government has not yet finalised the package.

The International Monetary Fund recently awarded Pakistan a 7.6-billion-dollar credit line to help stave off a balance-of-payments crisis in the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic power.