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Firm start for sharemarket after US share surge

Friday 4th March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket started the day firmly, after stocks in the US shot up following a pullback in oil prices and upbeat US labour market data.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZX-50 index was up 11.7 points to 3409, following a 15.3-point gain yesterday. Today's early gain left the index only a few points below a 31-month high reached a fortnight ago.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) was up 7c early to $8.78, on top of a 17c gain yesterday, despite saying the Christchurch earthquake would knock $14 million to $24 million off its previously forecast full year net earnings. The reduction included $5 million the company expected to provide to help with the recovery programme.

Abano Healthcare (NZX: ABA ) gained 5c to $4.60, NZ Refining Co (NZX: NZR ) was up 3c to $5.03, Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) gained 3c to $3.42, Freightways (NZX: FRE ) lifted 3c to $3.17, and Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) was up 3c to $8.08.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) edged up 1c to $2.15, and Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) was unchanged early on $6.08.

In the US, investors were betting upcoming payrolls data would show a big gain in jobs, pushing Wall Street to its best one-day rally in three months, but weak volume lingered.

As oil paused from its recent climb, the market's focus shifted to stronger-than-expected economic data a day before the February US employment report.

Preliminary figures put the Dow Jones industrial average up 1.6% to 12,258.35, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 1.7% to 1330.96, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.8% to 2798.74.



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