RTTNews - The New Zealand stock market opened marginally higher on Friday, following the modest gains made overnight on the Wall Street, where U.S. stocks closed moderately higher on encouraging employment data.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 7.82 points or 0.29% to 2,749.51 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index added 5.01 points or 0.18% to 2,824.14.

New Zealand's share market closed modestly lower on Thursday after top stop Telecom gave up some of the gains it had made on Wednesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index ended down 8.915 points or 0.324 percent, at 2741.681. There were 30 rises and 36 falls, with a market turnover worth $96.57m.

Overseas, U.S. stocks saw choppy trading over the course of Thursday's session, finishing up by modest margins following some encouraging employment data. The major averages all closed on the upside but were once again limited by low volume characteristic of the summer season.

Trading has been relatively subdued in recent weeks, with traders staying on the sidelines as economists forecast that the economy will see a recovery near the end of the calendar year.

The day's buying interest was largely generated by a report from the Labor Department showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits decreased substantially in the week ended July 4th.

The report showed that jobless claims fell to 565,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 617,000. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to 603,000 from the 614,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Traders largely shrugged off May wholesale trade data from the Commerce Department, which showed that wholesale inventories fell by less than economists had been expecting. The report also showed a modest increase in wholesale sales.

While the Dow bounced back and forth across the unchanged line going into the close, the blue chip index managed to end the session up by 4.76 points or 0.1 percent at 8,183.17, the Nasdaq rose by 5.38 points or 0.3 percent to 1,752.55 and the S&P 500 finished up by 3.12 points or 0.4 percent at 882.68.

Oil finished mildly higher amid choppy trading on Thursday as the weekly employment report sparked hopes the economy could improve. The daily gain was the first in six for crude oil.

Light sweet crude for August climbed to $60.41 per barrel, up 27 cents on the session. Earlier, oil touched a multi-month low of $59.25.

Despite the modest recovery, crude remains down more than $9 in July. Prices have tumbled amid worries the recession will linger, further hampering energy demand. Oil has lost nearly 60% from the record $147.27 reached in July 2008.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US62.99c at about 8am on Friday, compared to US62.76c at 5pm on Thursday.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Friday, market leader Telecom gained 0.74%, as second ranked Contact Energy collected 0.18% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, remained unchanged.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson, jewelry retailer Michael Hill International, Pumpkin Patch and Warehouse remained unchanged. Among energy stocks, Vector fell 0.49%, as TrustPower eased 0.13% in the day's early trading.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP, Australia and NZ Banking Corp, APN News & Media, Lion Nathan, Telstra and Westpac Bank remained unchanged on Friday morning.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil, Sky City and Sky Network Television remained unchanged, as Mainfreight advanced 0.48%, Methven jumped 1.54%, Nuplex surged 1.96% and Steel & Tube Holdings added 0.72%. Fisher & Paykel Appliances remained unchanged, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare collected 0.71%.

The losers in the day's early trading included-- AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.39%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.75%, Kiwi Income Property Trust by 1.08% and PGG Wrightson Limited by 0.92%.

Among gainers on Friday morning were-- Auckland International Airport by 0.65%, Air New Zealand by 2.30%, Cavalier by 2.22%, Freightways by 1.45%, ING Property Trust by 1.56%, NZX Limited by 2.00%, Port of Tauranga by 0.83% and Tourism Holdings by 4.44%.

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