RTTNews - The New Zealand stock market opened sharply higher on Friday, following a strong overnight lead from the Wall Street where U.S. stocks staged a substantial rally on on strong corporate profits and an encouraging home sales data.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 43.86 points or 1.50% to 2,962.49 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index added 42.19 points or 1.41% to 3,035.28.

New Zealand's share market posted its eighth straight gain on Thursday. The benchmark NZX-50 index advanced 18.2 points or 0.6 percent to 2,918.6. Trading volume totaled 48,7 million shares valued at NZ$126.1 million. There were 45 stocks closing higher, 28 lower and 42 unchanged.

Overseas, U.S. stocks staged a substantial rally on Thursday, following an encouraging report on existing home sales, after posting a modest upward move at the opening bell. The major averages all closed in positive territory by substantial margins, with the Nasdaq able to extend its winning streak for the twelfth straight session.

Earlier, buying interest was generated by data from the National Association of Realtors that showed that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June. Existing home sales rose by 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May.

Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.84 million unit rate from the 4.77 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

Although a separate report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose in June, the figure rose by slightly less than economists had expected.

Traders also delved into a series of earnings reports, with 3M, Ford and Wyeth reporting results that surpassed Wall Street estimates. McDonald's, AT&T, and Qualcomm also beat forecasts, although by more modest margins.

The major U.S. averages gave back some ground going into the close, although they held onto standout gains. The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1 percent at 9,069.29, the Nasdaq advanced by 47.22 points or 2.5 percent to 1.973.60 and the S&P 500 rose by 22.22 points or 2.3 percent to 976.29.

Crude oil prices turned sharply higher on Thursday as an encouraging housing report provided a spark for the prospects of energy demand. The rally took prices to a three-week high. Light sweet crude oil for September delivery rose to $67.16, up $1.76 on the session. Prices touched as high as $67.49 after earlier hitting as low as $64.40 earlier in the session.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US65.71c at 8am on Friday, when compared to US65.95c at 5pm on Thursday. During the night, the kiwi had peaked at US66.26c.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Friday, market leader Telecom added 1.78%, as second ranked Contact Energy advanced 0.67% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, gained 1.82%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson and Pumpkin Patch remained unchanged, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International gave up 1.49% and Warehouse added 1.33%. Among energy stocks, TrustPower collected 0.53%, as Vector advanced 0.50%.

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 Infratil surged 2.82%, Mainfreight collected 1.87%, Nuplex added 1.09%, Sky City jumped 2.81%, Sky Network Television advanced 0.94% and Steel & Tube Holdings gained 0.66%. While Fisher & Paykel Appliances climbed 2.56%, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare added 0.96%.

Apart from Michael Hill International, there was only one other loser among the shares listed under the benchmark NZX 50 index in the early trading on Friday. Methven posted a loss of 1.27% just minutes after the opening bell.

The morning's major gainers included-- Auckland International Airport by 6.10%, Cavalier by 1.42%, Ebos Group by 2.69%, Goodman Property Trust by 2.13%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.85%, Property For Industry by 1.72%, PGG Wrightson by 5.32%, Rakon by 2.11%, Skellerup Holdings by 1.82% and Tower by 2.84%.

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