RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened sharply higher on Thursday, following Wall Street's overnight gains. U.S. stocks rose in Wednesday's trading after the latest interest rate decision and economic statement from the Federal Reserve.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was up 23.10 points or 0.75% to 3,102.79 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index added 20.30 points or 0.65% to 3,150.45.

New Zealand's stock market posted gains on Wednesday while others around the Asia/Pacific region followed the U.S. lead and were lower. The benchmark NZX-50 index advanced 24.2 points or 0.8 percent to 3,079.7. Trading volume was reported by the NZ Stock Exchange at 38.3 million shares valued at NZ$82.2 million.

Overseas, U.S. stocks saw a strong outing on Wednesday, as trader expectations were largely confirmed by the Federal Reserve. The major averages all closed in positive territory by substantial margins, posting their first positive session of the week after the previous two days were slowed by profit taking.

The Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, announced Wednesday that it was maintaining the target range for its benchmark federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent.

The Fed also repeated its belief that low rates will persist for what it calls an extended period. The central bank added that economic activity is leveling out. The central bank also said it will gradually slow the pace of treasury purchases and expects that the full amount of $300 billion will be purchased by the end of October.

Going into the meeting, the Fed was universally expected to leave rates unchanged, but there was some speculation that the central bank could announce the end of its program to buy treasury bonds, a move it had undertaken to further stimulate the economy.

Earlier, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing that the U.S. trade deficit widened in the month of June compared to the previous month. The deficit for the month still came in narrower than economists had been anticipating.

The report revealed that the trade deficit widened to $27.0 billion in June from $26.0 billion in May, with imports increasing at a faster pace than exports. Economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase in the size of the deficit to $28.7 billion.

The major U.S. averages saw a late session rally stall but still finished with notable gains. The Dow jumped by 120.16 points or 1.3 percent to 9,361.61, the Nasdaq climbed by 28.99 points or 1.5 percent to 1,998.72 and the S&P 500 rose by 11.46 points or 1.2 percent to 1,005.81.

Crude oil prices rose Thursday as the stock market gains raised optimism about the economy, and eased concerns about rising inventories and weak demand the United States. While, U.S. crude closed 71 cents higher at $70.16 a barrel on Wednesday, London Brent crude rose 43 cents to finish the session at $72.89 a barrel.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US67.32c by about 8 am on Thursday, after dropping below US66c during the night. In comparison, the kiwi was buying US66.48c at 5pm on Wednesday.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Thursday, market leader Telecom added 1.09%, as second ranked Contact Energy advanced 0.80% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, surged 2.90%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson remained unchanged, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International collected 1.43%, Pumpkin Patch added 1.11% and Warehouse inched up by 0.25%. Among energy stocks, TrustPower remained unchanged, as Vector collected 0.48%.

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

Among other notable stocks, Mainfreight added 0.40%, Methven advanced 0.71%, Nuplex surged 3.26%, Sky City jumped 0.90%, Sky Network Television collected 0.44% and Steel & Tube Holdings climbed 1.61%. While Fisher & Paykel Appliances gained 1.23%, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare remained unchanged.

The gainers the day's early trading included-- Auckland International Airport by 1.18%, Air New Zealand by 1.65%, AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.23%, ING Property Trust by 1.35%, NZX Limited by 0.64%, Port of Tauranga by 1.54%, Pike River Coal by 0.86% and Tourism Holdings by 3.39%.

There were only three losers among the shares listed under the benchmark NZX 50 index in the early trading on Thursday morning, and were-- Infratil by 0.54%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.64% and NZ Farming Systems Uruguay by 3.85%.

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