New Zealand's share market opened steeply higher on Thursday, following a volatile overnight trading session on Wall Street where U.S. stocks closed higher on a mixed bag of economic news.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 26.74 points or 1.03% to 2,627.39 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital Index added 18.67 points or 0.70% to 2,677.34.

New Zealand's share market opened in negative territory on Wednesday, but recovered to finish nearly unchanged in the day's trading. The benchmark NZX-50 index was up 0.83 points or 0.03 percent to close at 2,600.65.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 56.4 million shares valued at NZ$101.1 million. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 38 to 22.

Overseas, U.S. stocks moved sharply higher going into the close of trading on Wednesday after showing a lack of direction throughout much of the session, as traders there digested a slew of economic reports as well as earnings news from some big-name companies.

Among the day's mixed bag of economic news, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report showed continued economic contraction in many parts of the country, but signs that the contraction is slowing.

While the major U.S. averages all closed above the unchanged line, the tech-heavy Nasdaq under-performed the Dow and the S&P 500 by a wide margin. The Nasdaq ended the session up 1.08 points or 0.1 percent at 1,626.80, while the Dow jumped 109.44 points or 1.4 percent to 8,029.62 and the S&P 500 closed up 10.56 points or 1.3 percent at 852.06.

Crude oil prices slipped slightly on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday as traders mulled over a report released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration revealing inventories increased again in the recent week.

Crude oil for May delivery fell to $49.26 a barrel, down 15 cents for the session. Oil touched as low as $48.91 after earlier hitting as high as $50.79.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 5.6 million barrels for the week ended April 10, according to the EIA report. At 366.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at their highest level in almost 19 years. Experts were looking for a build of 2.5 million barrels.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US58.15c by 8am on Thursday, compared to US57.80c at 5pm on Wednesday.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Thursday, market leader Telecom added 1.26%, as second ranked Contact Energy surged 2.74% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, added 1.85%.

In the retail sector Hallenstein Glasson, Warehouse and Pumpkin Patch remained unchanged, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International collected jumped 3.77%.

In the energy sector Vector remained unchanged, as TrustPower slipped 0.57% in the early trading on Thursday.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP, APN News & Media, Lion Nathan and Telstra remained unchanged, as Australia and NZ Banking Corp gained 1.32% and Westpac Bank collected 2.36%.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil added 1.35% and Sky City gained 0.35%, as Methven, Mainfreight, Nuplex, Sky Network Television and Steel & Tube Holdings remained unchanged. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare advanced 1.39%, as Fisher & Paykel Appliances climbed 2.27%.

Other major gainers in the day's early trading included- Auckland International Airport by 0.61%, Ebos Group by 1.05%, Freightways by 1.89%, Kiwi Income Property Trust by 1.11% and Pike River Coal by 4.00%.

Major losers on Thursday morning were - Goodman Property Trust by 1.25%, New Zealand Oil & Gas by 0.71%, NZX Limited by 1.71%, Property For Industry by 1.79%, Rakon by 0.79% and Ryman Healthcare by 0.71%.

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