RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened marginally weaker on Friday, despite a modest positive overnight lead from Wall Street. Earlier, the U.S. stocks had closed moderately higher on Thursday, ignoring disappointing news on employment and retail sales.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was down 5.28 points or 0.17% to 3,123.56 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index eased 3.77 points or 0.12% to 3,173.56.

New Zealand's market gained ground on Thursday, boosted by more strong interest in Fletcher Building on the heels of its better-than-expected earnings report on Wednesday. The benchmark NZX 50 index rose 49.2 points or 1.6 percent to 3,128.9. Trading volume was reported by the New Zealand Stock Exchange at x million shares valued at NZ$ million.

Overseas, U.S stocks were able to post modest gains on Thursday, even as a slew of largely disappointing economic reports contributing to some uncertainty in the markets. The major averages saw choppy trading over the course of the day, but late buying interest helped stocks to finish on the upside for the second straight session.

Traders were presented with a number of economic reports on the day, with first-time claims for unemployment benefits showing a modest increase in the week ended August 8th, according to the Labor Department. The headline figure surprised economists, who had expected a modest decrease. Nonetheless, jobless claims remain well off the peaks seen during the spring months.

The jobs report showed that initial jobless claims edged up to 558,000 from the previous week's revised figured of 554,000. Economists had been expecting claims to slip to 545,000 from the 550,000 originally reported for the previous week.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.1 percent in July. This followed a revised 0.8 percent increase in the previous month. The figure surprised economists, who had expected sales to increase by 0.8 percent.

Additional data from the Commerce Department revealed that business inventories fell by more than expected in the month of June, although the report also showed a notable increase in business sales during the month.

Stocks saw some upside following the results of the Treasury Department's $15 billion sale of thirty-year bonds. The sale drew a high yield of 4.541 percent and attracted strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.54. The bid-to-cover ratio is a measure of demand that indicates the amount of bids for each dollar worth of securities being sold.

The auction completed the Treasury's $75 billion in security offerings this week, designed to refund approximately $60.9 billion of privately held securities maturing on August 15, 2009 and to raise approximately $14.1 billion for government expenditures.

The major U.S. averages saw a steady upward move in late-session dealing, closing near their best levels of the day. The Dow finished up by 36.58 points or 0.4 percent at 9,398.19, the Nasdaq climbed by 10.63 points or 0.5 percent to 2,009.35 and the S&P 500 rose by 6.92 points or 0.7 percent to 1,012.73.

Crude oil finished modestly higher Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as data showed the German and French economies saw growth in the second quarter, boosting the outlook for global energy demand. A weaker dollar also improved oil's hedge value. Light sweet crude moved at $70.52 per barrel, up 36 cents on the session. Oil earlier touched as high as $72.21.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US67.83c by about 8 am on Friday, after topping the US68c mark during the night. In comparison, the kiwi was buying US67.28 at 5pm on Thursday.

In the economic news for Friday, Statistics New Zealand releases its data on Retail Sales for the month of June at 22:45 PM GMT.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Friday, market leader Telecom lost 0.71%, as second ranked Contact Energy dropped 2.23% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, fell 0.63%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson and jewelry retailer Michael Hill International remained unchanged, as Pumpkin Patch climbed 1.63% and Warehouse inched up by 0.25%. Among energy stocks, TrustPower and Vector remained unchanged.

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, Methven remained unchanged, as Mainfreight added 1.81%, Nuplex surged 2.62%, Sky City collected 0.29%, Sky Network Television jumped 1.30% and Steel & Tube Holdings climbed 1.29%. While Fisher & Paykel Appliances gained 1.19%, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare remained unchanged.

The other major gainers the day's early trading included-- Auckland International Airport by 1.16%, Air New Zealand by 1.63%, ING Property Trust by 1.37%, New Zealand Refining Company by 0.72%, Port of Tauranga by 1.53% and Rakon by 4.93%.

Apart from the three leading stocks, the losers on Friday morning included-- AMP NZ Office Trust by 2.41%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.64%, Infratil by 1.09%, NZX Limited by 0.13%, Tourism Holdings Limited by 1.61% and Tower by 0.55%.

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