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Sharemarket falls further in early trading

Tuesday 22nd February 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket followed on from yesterday's tumble to fall further in early trade, after oil prices charged to fresh 2-1/2 year highs as traders reacted to increasing violence in major producer Libya.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 9.35 points to 3372.59, having dropped 30 points yesterday.

Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) dropped 4c to 46.15, after reporting half year underlying earnings after tax barely changed from a year earlier while revenue rose 12%. Yesterday its shares lost 6c.

Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) dropped 5c to $3.67, Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) dropped 2c to $2.24, Ebos Group (NZX: EBO ) fell 2c to $7.57, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) lost 2c to 48.28, and Telecom (NZX: TEL ) slipped 1c to 219.

NZ Refining Co (NZX: NZR ) was up 5c early to $4.90, while Abano Healthcare (NZX: ABA ) added 4c to $4.70. Diligent Boardbooks (NZX: DIL ) gained 4c to 85 after reporting revenue up 66% in 2010, with total annualised licence fee income up 59%.

US markets were closed for a holiday, while in Europe equities lost more than 1% on a combination of uncertainty over the future of the oil price, increasing signs that higher interest rates may be coming and more evidence of a surprisingly poor earnings season.

Together, the worries overshadowed reports of solid European economic growth.

Gold powered to its highest levels in seven weeks, above $US1400 an ounce, helped along by both inflation fears and risk aversion.



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