RTTNews - New Zealand stock market opened marginally lower on Wednesday, following a flat overnight lead from Wall Street where investors paused in advance of Wednesday's rate decision from the Federal Reserve.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was down 2.54 points or 0.09% to 2,759.46 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index eased 0.34 points or 0.01% to 2,823.81.

New Zealand's share market joined those in the Asia/Pacific region in moving lower on Tuesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index retreated 32.9 points or 1.2 percent to settle at 2,762.01. The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 36.7 million shares worth NZ$76.1 million.

Overseas, U.S. stocks finished Tuesday little changed, marred by another low volume session characteristic of the summer trading season. The major averages finished on opposite sides of the unchanged mark by only mild margins, unable to sustain any notable moves on the day.

The lackluster performance came as some traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of the announcement of the Federal Reserve's announcement of its latest decision on interest rates. While the Fed is expected to leave rates unchanged, traders will keep a close eye on the accompanying statement.

Early gains were erased by trader reaction to a report from the National Association of Realtors, which showed that existing homes sales rose for the second consecutive month in May but still came in below economist estimates.

The report showed that existing home sales rose 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.77 million units in May from a revised 4.66 million units in April. Economists had expected sales to rise 3 percent to 4.82 million units from the 4.68 million units originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the downward revision to April sales, the annual rate of existing home sales for the month was still up 2.4 percent compared to March. Subsequently, existing home sales showed their first back-to-back monthly gains since September 2005.

The major U.S. averages saw choppy trading throughout the day, bouncing in and out of positive territory for most of the session. While the S&P 500 finished up by 2.06 points or 0.2 percent at 895.10, the Dow slipped by 16.10 points or 0.2 percent to 8,322.91, and the Nasdaq dropped by 1.27 points or 0.1 percent to 1,764.92.

Oil jumped higher on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as investors looked ahead to the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report, which is expected to show a drop in stockpiles tomorrow.

Light sweet crude August delivery rose to $69.24 per barrel, up $1.74 on the session. Prices rallied as high as $69.68 after falling as low as $66.37.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar rose more than 1.5c overnight against the US dollar and touched a high of US64.15c at about 5am on Wednesday, before dropping to US64.02c by 8am.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Wednesday, market leader Telecom remained unchanged, as second ranked Contact Energy fell 0.52% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, added 0.78%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson, jewelry retailer Michael Hill International, Pumpkin Patch and Warehouse remained unchanged.

In the energy sector, Vector gave up 0.50%, as TrustPower remained unchanged in the early trading on Wednesday.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP gave up 1.13, as 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 gave up 0.57% and Nuplex surged 1.92%, as Mainfreight, Methven, Sky City, Sky Network Television and Steel & Tube Holdings remained unchanged. Fisher & Paykel Appliances dropped 1.52%, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare remained on the unchanged line.

The gainers in the day's early trading included-- Kiwi Income Property Trust by 1.12%, New Zealand Oil & Gas Limited by 0.65%, Pike River Coal by 3.64%, Tourism Holdings by 2.17% and Tower by 1.16%.

The major losers on Wednesday morning included-- Auckland International Airport by 0.62%, AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.37%, Guinness Peat Group by 4.35%, ING Property Trust by 1.69%, Property For Industry by 0.86% and PGG Wrightson by 4.17%.

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