RTTNews - Mixed to higher opens are expected for the New Zealand and Australia stock markets on Friday, following a generally positive lead from Wall Street. U.S. stocks were modestly higher after better-than-expected data on unemployment claims.

New Zealand's sharemarket moved lower on Thursday. The benchmark NZX-50 index declined 24.9 points or 0.88 percent to 2,815.7.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 74.9 million shares valued at NZ$127.8 million.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 63 to 24 with 28 unchanged.

Among the session's most actively traded issues, AMP New Zealand Office Trust was unchanged, Fletcher Building was up a penny, Fisher & Paykel Appliances was down .09 or more than 8 percent, F & P Healthcare was up .04, Goodman Property Trust was down a penny, Guinness Peat declined two cents, Kiwi Income Property Trust was down two cents, Nuplex fell a penny, SkyCity Entertainment was down two cents and Telecom Corp of NZ was down .03.

In Australia, shares moved broadly lower. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 82.6 points or 2.06 percent to 3,934.6 while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 76.8 points or 1.92 percent to 3,932.5.

Market turnover was 2.19 billion shares valued at A$5.65 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 602 to 442 with 329 unchanged.

A plunge in miner Rio Tinto shares helped lead the resources sector lower. Rio declined A$4.70 or 6.5 percent. Rival BHP Billiton dropped $1.92 or 5 percent, Fortescue Metals was down .13 and OZ Minerals declined .03.

Among the coal stocks, Gloucester Coal was up a penny, Felix Resources dropped .70 and Macarthur Coal was down .26.

The gold miners were lower, with Newcrest Mining down $1.03, Newmont Mining down .25 and Lihir Gold down .13.

The banking sector was mixed, with Australia and NZ Banking Group advancing .48, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia was down a penny, National Australia Bank fell .90 and Westpac was down .03.

For the major retailers, Wesfarmers was down $1.20, Woolworths was up .30, Harvey Norman declined .13 and David Jones was down .20.

In overseas trading, U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range for much of Thursday's session, but turned modestly higher late in the day. With about an hour to go before the closing bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 53.19 points or 0.61 percent at 8,728.47, the Nasdaq Composite index advanced 16.76 points or 0.92 percent at 1,842.68 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 7.82 points or 0.90 percent at 940.19.

Most major markets in the Asia/Pacific region closed lower on Thursday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Average declined 72.71 points or 0.75 percent to 9,668.96.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was down 73.70 points or 0.40 percent at 18,502.77.

China's Shanghai Composite index was down 11.35 points or 0.41 percent at 2,767.24.

In India, the BSE 30 index advanced 137.78 points or 0.93 percent to 15,008.68.

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up 21.80 points or 1.08 percent at 2,032.72.

The KOSPI/Seoul Composite index in South Korea declined 36.75 points or 2.60 percent to 1,378.14.

The Taiwan Weighted Index was down 107.08 points or 1.55 percent to 6,786.06.

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