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NZ sharemarket starts flat

Friday 8th April 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket started flat, following in the wake of United States markets which ended slightly down after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Japan.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 1.93 points to 3448.43, having edged up just 0.48 points yesterday, with the market appearing to be consolidating after a period of recovery.

Contact Energy (NZX: CEN )  lost 3c early to $5.80, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) dropped 2c to $9.33, and Telecom (NZX: TEL ) slipped 1c to $1.99.5.

Stocks making gains early included Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ), up 5c to 49.25, after yesterday reaching an intraday record high of $9.30. Sanford (NZX: SAN ) lifted 7c to $5.60, Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) was up 2.5c to $2.20, and Ryman Healthcare (NZX: RYM ) gained 2c to $2.44.

In the US, stocks fell in morning trading but pared losses after the impact of the latest Japanese quake appeared to be less than initially feared, despite striking near the same area as the massive quake that triggered devastating tsunami four weeks ago.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 0.1% to 12,409.49, the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.2% to 1333.51, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.1% to 2796.14.

US economic news was also mostly positive. The 382,000 people applying for unemployment for the first time last week. That was the third drop in four weeks, suggesting layoffs are slowing.

Major retailers also reported better-than-expected sales for March at stores that have been open at least a year. Analysts had predicted declines because of cold weather and higher gas prices.



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