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Modest early gain for sharemarket

Thursday 3rd March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket gained modestly in early trading, as oil prices rose further on news of an airstrike in Libya near an oil terminal and gold hit a record high as investors sought the metal's safety.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZX-50 index was up 3.8 points to 3385.79, after easing 2.4 points yesterday.

Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) added 4c to $8.08 early, Sky TV (NZX: SKT )  lifted 3c to $5.45, and Skellerup (NZX: SKL ) was up 2c to $1.29, while Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) lost 4c to $3.30, and Air New Zealand (NZX: AIR ) was down 2c to $1.28.

Among leading stocks, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) gained 4c to $8.58 after falling 20c yesterday when a 16c a share dividend was no longer payable on the stock. Telecom (NZX: TEL ) was down 2c to $2.14, but Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) edged up 1c to $6.16.

In the US, stocks eked out gains despite rising oil prices, as investors bet the latest signs of economic strength may be able to absorb expected higher energy costs.

Wall Street seesawed against the changes in oil throughout the day. Brent crude rose to a 2-1/2-year high above US$117 a barrel in the late morning after the bombing raids near Libya's oil terminals, but later slipped.

On preliminary figures, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1% to 12,066.65, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.2% to 1308.43, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4% to 2748.07.

Gold climbed to an all-time record at US$1440.10 an ounce. The metal has rallied 10% since late January when tensions first began to flare in the Middle East and Africa.



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