The New Zealand stock market was trading lower on Monday following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday.

In mid-morning trades, the benchmark NZX 50 Index was losing 19.00 points or 0.72% to 2,634.47 and the broader NZX All Capital Index was down 12.41 points or 0.46% to 2,675.01.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Friday as investors cashed in on some of the recent gains. Some of the weakness came as investors digested mixed economic news and kept a close eye on a meeting between President Obama and the CEOs of the nation's biggest banks.

Crude oil plunged on Friday as traders bet a recent rally was overdone. The decline erased most of the gains from the week. Light sweet crude ended at US$52.38 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down US$1.96 for the session.

On the economic front, the number of building permits issued in New Zealand was up 11.6% in February compared to the previous month, Statistics New Zealand said Monday. That follows a revised 13.0% monthly decline in January, which was originally reported as -13.1% on month. The seasonally adjusted number of new housing units authorized, excluding apartments, rose 0.3% in February 2009, but remains at a low level.

In the currency market, the New Zealand dollar was trading lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday as a weak end to trading on Wall Street Friday drew safe-haven bids toward the U.S. currency. In early trades, the kiwi was buying US$0.5694, compare to US$0.5757 at close on Friday.

Among the top stocks, Telecom was easing 0.44%, Contact Energy is down 3.25% and Fletcher Building is unchanged.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson is losing 2.65%, Pumpkin Patch is sliding 2.73% and the Warehouse Group is down 1.11%. Jeweler Michael Hill is declining 1.89%.

Among other notable stocks, Nuplex is falling 8.99%, Freightways is losing 2.03%, Sky City is declining 1.03% and Steel & Tube is easing 0.76%. However, Pike River Coal is gaining 4.65%.

Energy scrip TrustPower is unchanged and Vector is easing 0.88%. Dual-listed AMP is advancing 0.34%, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are unchanged.

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