RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened moderately lower on Wednesday, following overnight losses at the Wall Street, where U.S. stocks slumped after a worse-than-expected consumer confidence report cast doubts on economic recovery prospects.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was down by 15.58 points or 0.56% to 2,780.52 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index slipped 7.32 points or 0.26% to 2,850.58.

New Zealand's market posted a modest gain on the final trading day of the fiscal quarter, with a drop in volume leader Telecom Corp of NZ weighing the market down. At the close, the benchmark NZX-50 index was up 20.99 points or 0.8 percent at 2,796.1. Trading volume was 63.5 million shares valued at NZ$185.3 million.

Overseas, U.S. stocks turned sharply lower after kicking off Tuesday's session with a mild upward move. The downward move came as traders digested consumer confidence figures that fell short of expectations. The major averages all finished firmly in negative territory, offsetting Monday's gains.

A report from the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 49.3 in June from a revised 54.8 in May. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge up to 55.3 from the 54.9 originally reported for the previous month. The decrease reflected less favorable assessments of both current conditions and the near-term outlook.

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector jumped to 39.9 in June from 34.9 in May, although a reading below 50 indicates a continued contraction. Economists had been expecting the index to increase to a reading of 39.0.

Earlier, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a closely watched measure of home prices, showed a 0.6 percent decline from March to April, according to a survey of prices in 20 U.S. cities. Home prices were down 18.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

The major U.S. averages moved off their worst levels late in the session but still posted notable losses. The Dow closed down by 82.38 points or 1 percent at 8,447.00, the Nasdaq dipped by 9.02 points or 0.5 percent to 1,835.04, and the S&P 500 fell 7.91 points or 0.9 percent to 919.32.

Oil prices fell more than 2 percent to below US$70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. U.S. crude fell $1.60 to $69.89 a barrel, while London Brent crude dropped $1.69 to settle at $69.30 a barrel.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US64.52c at about 8am on Wednesday, compared to US65.16c at 5pm on Tuesday. During the night, the kiwi had touched a low of US64.35c before recovering by 8am.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Tuesday, market leader Telecom dropped 0.37%, as second ranked Contact Energy gave up 0.85% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, fell 1.37%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson gained 1.23%, jewelry retailer Michael Hill International surged 8.33%, Pumpkin Patch added 0.67% and Warehouse collected 0.53%.

In the energy sector, Vector lost 0.49%, as TrustPower slipped by 0.26% in the early trading on Wednesday.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP, Australia and NZ Banking Corp, APN News & Media, Lion Nathan, Telstra and Westpac Bank remained unchanged in the day's early trading.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil slipped 0.57% and Steel & Tube Holdings added 0.36%, as Mainfreight, Methven, Nuplex, Sky City and Sky Network Television remained unchanged. Fisher & Paykel Appliances lost 1.49%, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare dropped 1.37%.

The major gainers in the day's early trading included-- AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.43%, Goodman Property Trust by 1.10%, NZX Limited by 0.69%, PGG Wrightson by 0.88%, Rakon Limited by 3.57%, Skellerup Holdings by 1.96% and Tourism Holdings by 2.38%.

The other losers in the early trading on Wednesday included-- Freightways by 0.35%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.75%, New Zealand Oil & Gas Limited by 0.63%, Port of Tauranga by 0.81%, Pike River Coal by 0.85% and Ryman Healthcare Limited by 1.25%.

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