RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened marginally higher on Wednesday, following a mildly positive lead from Wall Street, where better than expected data on consumer confidence and home prices boosted the markets.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 2.31 points to 3082.81 shortly after the market opened for the day. The NZX 50 index had closed 12.8 points higher on Tuesday.

New Zealand's market advanced modestly in a day of low volume trading on Tuesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index rose 12.8 points or 0.4 percent to 3,080.5. The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 32.9 million shares valued at NZ$60.2 million.

Overseas, U.S. stocks finished modestly higher on Tuesday, as the day's positive economic reports and news of Ben Bernanke's reappointment generated some upbeat sentiment on Wall Street. The major averages all finished in positive territory by slim margins, well off their best levels of the day.

Buying interest was largely sparked by the day's economic data, with a report from the Conference Board showing that consumer confidence rebounded significantly in the month of August after seeing some deterioration in July.

The consumer confidence index jumped to 54.1 in August from an upwardly revised 47.4 in July. Economists had been expecting the index to increase to 47.9 from the 46.6 originally reported for the previous month.

Separately, Standard and Poor's revealed that the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index fell at an annual rate of 15.4 percent in June compared to a revised 17 percent drop in May. Economists had expected prices to fall 16.4 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

In other news, President Barack Obama officially nominated Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman this morning, with the president praising the manner in which the Fed Chief handled the recent financial crisis.

Meanwhile, both the White House and the Congressional Budget Office released new projections of near-record budget deficits totaling roughly $1.58 trillion for 2009. That level of deficit, a combination of increased government spending and plummeting tax revenues due to the recession, will ring in at 11.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, the highest deficit since World War II.

The major U.S. averages saw choppy movement in late session trading, holding onto modest gains. The Dow closed up 30.01 points or 0.3 percent at 9,539.29, the Nasdaq closed up 6.25 points or 0.3 percent at 2,024.23 and the S&P 500 closed up 2.43 points or 0.2 percent at 1,028.00.

Oil prices turned sharply lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday as profit-takers collected on a rally to a 10-month high to $75 per barrel. Light sweet crude for October delivery dropped to $72.05, losing $2.32 on the session. Earlier, oil hit $75 for the first time since October.
Traders looked ahead to the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report, which is expected at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US68.45c by about 8 am on Wednesday, little changed from its level at 5pm on Tuesday. The kiwi had touched a high of US68.98 during the night.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Tuesday, market leader Telecom slipped 0.73%, as second ranked Contact Energy added 1.11% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, collected 0.64%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson and Warehouse remained unchanged, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International gained 1.45% and Pumpkin Patch collected 1.63%. Among energy stocks, TrustPower remained unchanged, as Vector jumped 0.49%.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP surged 4.88%, Lion Nathan added 0.35% and Westpac Bank collected 0.88%, as Australia and NZ Banking Corp, APN News & Media and Telstra remained unchanged on Wednesday morning.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil gained 1.17%, Mainfreight fell 1.89%, Methven surged 1.94%, Nuplex dropped 3.23% and Sky Network Television lost 1.10%, as Sky City and Steel & Tube Holdings remained unchanged. While Fisher & Paykel Appliances remained unchanged, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare posted a loss of 0.91%.

While the early gainers included-- AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.22%, Goodman Property Trust by 1.02% and Tower by 0.58%, the major losers in early trading were-- Air New Zealand by 0.80%, Kiwi Income Property Trust by 0.96%, New Zealand Refining Company by 0.74%, PGG Wrightson by 1.16%, Pike River Coal by 3.88% and Sanford by 0.59%.

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