The New Zealand stock market opened cautiously higher on Wednesday, following a negative overnight lead from Wall Street where the U.S. shares closed lower as investors there booked profits made in the earlier session.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 4.48 points or 0.17% to 2,639.81 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital Index added 4.10 points or 0.15% to 2,669.35.

New Zealand's market rode the U.S. wave to higher ground on Tuesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index closed with a gain of 43.91 points or 1.7 percent at 2,635.3.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange tallied the session's trading volume at 44.2 million shares worth NZ$120.3 million. Of the 50 companies comprising the index, just 3 finished lower.

Overseas, the U.S. stocks moved back to the downside going into the close of trading on Tuesday after failing to sustain an afternoon recovery attempt. The major averages all ended the day firmly in negative territory, partly offsetting the standout gains posted in the previous session.

While profit taking contributed to some weakness in the U.S. markets, selling pressure remained relatively subdued, helping the major averages to hold onto the bulk of Monday's gains.

For much of the session, traders were keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testifying before the House Financial Services Committee.

The major U.S. averages pulled back to new lows for the session in late-day trading, although they ended the session just off their worst levels. The Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5 percent at 7,660.21, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4 percent at 1,518.43 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2 percent at 806.34.

Crude oil closed modestly lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday but rebounded off of its lows of the session. Traders looked ahead to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, which is expected to show another build in inventories.

Light sweet crude for May delivery fell 18 cents to end at $53.92 per barrel. Prices slipped as low as $52.45 earlier in the session.

EIA data is due at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Experts are looking for a build of about 1.2 million barrels, which would be the 22nd rise in 26 weeks.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US56.49c, when compared to the 10-week high of US57.45c touched Tuesday mid-afternoon.

In Wednesday's economic calendar, the Westpac Bank releases its data on New Zealand's Consumer Confidence for the first quarter at 01:00 AM GMT.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Wednesday, market leader Telecom added 0.43%, as second ranked Contact Energy collected 0.50% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, lost 2.23%.

In the retail sector Hallenstein Glasson and jewelry retailer Michael Hill International remained unchanged, as Pumpkin Patch surged 2.86% and Warehouse fell 0.82%.

In the energy sector Vector gave up 0.45%, as TrustPower remained unchanged in the early trading on Wednesday.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP advanced 1.74%, as Australia and NZ Banking Corp, APN News & Media, Lion Nathan, Telstra and Westpac Bank remained unchanged.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil and Mainfreight remained unchanged, as Methven slipped 1.67%, Nuplex surged 14.71%, Sky City collected 0.36, Steel & Tube Holdings lost 1.85% and Sky Network Television declined 0.51%. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare remained unchanged, as Fisher & Paykel Appliances jumped 5.13%.

Among the other stocks listed under the NZX 50 index, Air New Zealand Limited posted a gain of 1.11% in the day's early trading.

Major losers in the early trading on Wednesday included- Cavalier by 0.62%, PGG Wrightson by 0.81%, Port of Tauranga by 0.99%, Pike River Coal by 1.30% and Ryman Healthcare by 1.43%.

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