RTTNews - The New Zealand share markets opened moderately higher on Friday, following a strong overnight performance on Wall Street where U.S. stocks rose after an unexpected rise in housing starts, while crude oil continued its climb.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 17.92 points or 0.66% to 2,739.90 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital Index added 16.42 points or 0.59% to 2,802.86.

New Zealand shares ended lower on Thursday. The benchmark NZX-50 index declined 47.8 points or 1.73 percent to 2,721,98. Trading volume was reported by the New Zealand Stock Exchange at 66.2 million shares valued at NZ$120.8 million. Declining issues outnumbered advancers 57 to 28, with 35 unchanged.

Overseas, U.S. stocks posted notable gains on Thursday as trader concerns regarding rising interest rates were cooled by a respectable bond auction. The major averages saw some volatility early on before moving firmly into positive territory in the early afternoon.

The major averages were bolstered by the results of the $26.0 billion seven-year note auction conducted by the Treasury Department earlier this afternoon. The sale drew a high-yield of 3.30 percent while seeing modestly strong demand, with the bid-to-cover ratio coming in at 2.26.

The bid-to-cover ratio is a measure of demand that indicates the amount of bids for each dollar worth of securities being sold. The demand for the long-term notes mitigated some trader concern regarding the rising interest rates in the headwind of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing measures.

Earlier in the day, traders expressed some uncertainty about the economic after a Commerce Department report showed a slower than expected pace of new home sales in April.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that initial jobless claims in the week ended May 23rd came in at 623,000, down 13,000 from a revised mark of 636,000 in the previous week. At the same time, continuing claims, which measure the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment help, rose once again and set another record high.

Meanwhile, a report from the Commerce Department showed that orders for durable goods increased by much more than expected in the month of April, although the stronger than expected growth came after a steep decline in March.

The major U.S. averages moved roughly sideways going into the close, hovering near their highs of the day. The Dow closed up 103.78 points or 1.3 percent at 8,403.80, the Nasdaq closed up 20.71 points or 1.2 percent at 1,751.79 and the S&P 500 closed up 13.77 points or 1.5 percent at 906.83.

Crude oil settled above $65 per barrel for the first time since November on Thursday after a Energy Information report showed a larger-than-expected decline in weekly inventories.

Light sweet crude finished at $65.08 per barrel, up $1.63 on the day. Oil rose as high as $65.44 in afternoon trading.

Crude oil inventories fell by 5.4 million barrels in the week ending May 22. The weekly drop was the third in a row to take stockpiles away from their highest level in nearly two decades.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US62.32c by 8am on Friday, when compared to US61.72c by 5pm on Thursday. During the night, the kiwi had touched a seven-month high of US62.70c by 1.30am.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Friday, market leader Telecom added 1.19%, as second ranked Contact Energy collected 0.52%, and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, advanced 1.59%.

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

In the energy sector, Vector gained 0.49%, as TrustPower remained unchanged in the early trading on Friday.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP jumped 1.33%, Telstra added 0.77% and Westpac Bank fell 0.64%, as APN News & Media, Australia and NZ Banking Corp and Lion Nathan remained unchanged.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil advanced 0.62%, Mainfreight inched up 0.22%, Methven collected 1.57%, Nuplex surged 2.27%, Sky City jumped 1.43% and Steel & Tube Holdings added 0.68%, as Sky Network Television eased 0.24%. Fisher & Paykel Appliances collected 2.83%, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gave up 0.36%.

Other gainers in the day's early trading included- Auckland International Airport by 0.63%, AMP NZ Office Trust by 1.37%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.35%, New Zealand Oil & Gas by 0.67%, NZX Limited by 0.37%, Property For Industry Limited by 0.87%, Rakon by 3.70%, Ryman Healthcare by 1.88% and Tower by 1.91%.

Apart from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Sky Network Television and Westpac Bank, the only other loser among the stocks listed under the NZX 50 index on Friday morning was Sanford Limited, which posted a loss of 0.86%.

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