Mixed opens are forecast for the New Zealand and Australian stock markets on Thursday, following a see-saw session on Wall Street overnight. U.S. stocks closed higher after the Federal Reserve released March meeting minutes that showed growing downside risks to the economy and the efforts being taken to improve it.
New Zealand's sharemarket declined for a second straight session on Wednesday.
The benchmark NZX-50 index fell 43.57 points or 1.67 percent to 2,568.9.
The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 61.2 million shares valued at NZ$124.7 million.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancers 54 to 20.
Top-traded stock Telecom Corp of NZ accounted for more than one third of all trading volume. Telecom shares dropped $0.12 or nearly 5 percent on trading of 21.4 million shares.
Among the session's other most heavily traded stocks, Auckland International Airport closed down $0.05, Air NZ was down .02, Fletcher Building was down .10, Goodman Property Trust was unchanged, Infratil was down a penny, ING Property Trust was down a penny, Kiwi Income Properties was up two cents, Nuplex fell one cent, NZ Oil & Gas was down a penny, Pike River Coal dropped two cents, SkyCity Entertainment was up a cent, Telstra was up .07 and Westpac Bank fell .95.
In Australia, the market also finished lower for a second session. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 86.8 points or 2.3 percent to finish at 3,619.5 while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 81.0 points or 2.2 percent to close at 3,567.5.
The mining and financial sectors pulled the market lower. Among the big miners, BHP Billiton declined .92 or nearly 3 percent while rival Rio Tinto was down .37 or 0.7 percent. Among the junior miners, Equinox Mining was down .52 or more than 20 percent, Fortescue Metals dropped .05 and OZ Minerals was down 1.5 cents.
In the banking sector, Australia and NZ Bank was down .7-, Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined $1.45, National Australia Bank dropped 1.02, Westpac fell .29 and Macquarie Group was down $1.74.
The Government's plans for a national broadband network led to continued heavy trading in telecom Telstra. It closed unchanged on volume of 116 million shares. Rival Singapore Telecom was up .03.
Among the media companies, News Corp fell .55, Fairfax Media declined .06, Ten Network dropped .02, Seven Network was down .24.
Overseas, Wall Street finished a choppy trading session on a positive note Wednesday. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 47.55 points or 0.61 percent at 7,837.11, the Nasdaq Composite index was up 29.05 points or 1.86 percent at 1,590.66 and the Standard &* Poor's 500 index was up 9.61 points or 1.18 percent at 825.16.
With the exception of India's, major markets around the Asia/Pacific region closed lower on Wednesday.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Average posted a loss of 237.84 points or 2.69 percent at 8,595.01.
China's Shanghai Composite closed down 91.80 points or 3.76 percent at 2,347.39.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 454.11 points or 3.04 percent at 14,474.86.
In India, the BSE 30 Index gained 207.47 points or 1.97 percent at 10.742.34.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index fell 25.11 points or 1.68 percent at 1,465.75.
In South Korea, the KOSPI/Seoul Composite index was down 38.03 points or 2.93 percent at 1,262.07.
The Taiwan Weighted Index declined 133.29 points or 2.39 percent to 5,443.56.
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