RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened slightly higher on Thursday, following a positive overnight lead from the Wall Street where major U.S. averages closed moderately higher on encouraging economic news.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up by 8.63 points or 0.31% to 2,789.00 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index added 3.34 points or 0.12% to 2,847.24.

New Zealand's market moved lower on Wednesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index declined 15.74 points or 0.6 percent to close at 2,780.37. Trading volume was 29.3 million shares valued at NZ$75.5 million. There were 35 stocks closing higher, 41 were lower and 40 unchanged.

Overseas, U.S. stocks were unable to hold onto their strong gains made in morning trading and steadily ceded ground over the course of Wednesday's session. Nonetheless, the major averages all finished in positive territory amid yet another low volume session.

Early gains came on the heels of a report from the Institute for Supply Management, which said its index of activity in the manufacturing rose to 44.8 in June from 42.8 in May, although a reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the sector. The index came roughly in line with the expectations of economists, who forecast a reading of 44.6.

Separately, housing industry group NAR said its pending home sales index rose 0.1 percent to 90.7 in May from an upwardly revised reading of 90.6 in April. Economists had been expecting the index to come in unchanged compared to the 90.3 originally reported for the previous month.

The day's optimism was mitigated by data from the U.S. Commerce Department revealing that construction spending fell 0.9 percent in May following a revised 0.6 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had expected construction spending to fall by 0.6 percent compared to the 0.8 percent increase that was originally reported for April.

Meanwhile, ADP said that non-farm private employment fell by 473,000 jobs in June following a revised decrease of 485,000 jobs in May. Economists had expected a decrease of 394,000 jobs compared to the loss of 532,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

While employment fell by more than expected, the decrease in jobs marked the smallest drop since October of 2008, when employment fell by 352,000 jobs.

The major averages continued to give back ground going into the close but were able to finish in the green by comfortable margins. The Dow closed up by 57.06 points or 0.7 percent at 8,504.06, the Nasdaq rose by 10.68 points or 0.6 percent to 1,845.72 and the S&P 500 advanced by 4.01 points or 0.4 percent to 923.33.

Crude oil prices dropped again on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday as traders mulled over inventory data released by the Energy Information Administration. Although crude inventories fell more than forecast, supplies in Cushing, Okla., were higher and gasoline stockpiles were again higher.

Light sweet crude oil closed at $69.31 per barrel, down 58 cents on the session. Prices hit as low as $68.52 earlier in the day.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 3.7 million barrels from the previous week. Experts predicted a decline of about 2.2 million barrels. Supplies in Cushing were up 200,000 barrels in the recent week, rising for the first time in five weeks.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US63.91c at about 8am on Thursday, compared to US64.44c at 5pm on Wednesday.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Thursday, market leader Telecom posted a gain of 0.73%, as second ranked Contact Energy gave up 0.34% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, collected 1.25%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson and jewelry retailer Michael Hill International remained unchanged, as Pumpkin Patch dropped 1.99% and Warehouse added 0.53%.

In the energy sector, Vector collected 0.49%, as TrustPower added 0.65% in the early trading on Thursday.

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, Mainfreight, Methven, Sky Network Television and Steel & Tube Holdings remained unchanged, as Nuplex jumped 2.00% and Sky City advanced 0.76%. Fisher & Paykel Appliances surged 3.03%, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 1.04%.

The major gainers in the day's early trading included-- PGG Wrightson by 0.93%, Ryman Healthcare by 0.63%, Sanford Limited by 3.65% and Tourism Holdings by 2.44%.

The other losers in the early trading on Thursday included-- Cavalier by 1.63%, Goodman Property Trust by 1.09%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.75%, ING Medical Properties Trust by 0.83% and Tower by 2.31%.

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