RTTNews - The New Zealand share market opened lower on Thursday, following a weak overnight lead from the Wall Street where U.S. stocks closed broadly lower on a worse-than-expected retail sales data.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was down 20.21 points or 0.72% to 2,791.35 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital Index dropped 21.33 points or 0.74% to 2,853.44.

New Zealand's share market finished flat on Wednesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index was down 1.13 points or 0.04 percent at 2,811.56. Trading volume was reported by the New Zealand Stock Exchange as 46.9 million shares valued at NZ$137.6 million. There were 41 issues closing higher, 44 were lower and 34 unchanged.

Overseas, U.S. stocks saw substantial weakness during trading on Wednesday, as disappointing retail sales offset some of the recent optimism about the outlook for the economy. The major averages all moved sharply lower after ending the previous session mixed.

The weakness in the markets came after a report from the Commerce Department showed that retail sales unexpectedly fell for the second consecutive month in April after showing back-to-back increases in the first two months of the year.

The report showed that retail sales fell 0.4 percent in April following a revised 1.3 percent decrease in March. Economists had expected sales to come in unchanged compared to the 1.2 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

In other economic news, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed a continued decrease in business inventories in the month of March. The report showed that business inventories fell 1.0 percent in March following a revised 1.4 percent decrease in February.

The major U.S. averages all closed firmly negative, with the Nasdaq ending the session at its worst level of the day. The Dow fell 184.22 points or 2.2 percent to 8,284.89, the Nasdaq closed down 51.73 points or 3 percent at 1,664.19 and the S&P 500 fell 24.43 points or 2.7 percent to 883.92.

Crude oil prices dropped on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday as a surprise draw in weekly inventories reported by Energy Information Administration was out-weighed by weak demand data.

Light sweet crude for June delivery closed at $58.02, down 83 cents on the session. Earlier, oil touched as high as $59.90, challenging yesterday's six-month high of $60.08.

On the currency front, the New Zealand dollar was buying US59.07c by 8am on Thursday, compared to US60.58c at 5pm on Wednesday.

In the economic news slated for Thursday release, Business New Zealand releases its data on the performance of the country's Manufacturing Index for the month of April at 22:30 PM GMT.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Thursday, market leader Telecom fell 1.14%, as second ranked Contact Energy eased 0.50% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, dropped 1.64%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson was down 1.51%, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International gave up 1.52%, Pumpkin Patch dropped 1.50% and Warehouse slumped 2.06%.

In the energy sector, Vector declined 0.90%, while TrustPower remained unchanged in the early trading on Thursday morning.

Among the dual listed issues, AMP, Australia and NZ Banking Corp, APN News & Media, Lion Nathan, Telstra and Westpac Bank remained unchanged.

Among other notable stocks, Infratil fell 2.40%, Mainfreight eased 0.21%, Nuplex dropped 2.56%, Sky Network Television declined 0.45%, Sky City lost 1.05% and Steel & Tube Holdings slipped 1.67%, as Methven remained unchanged. Fisher & Paykel Appliances plummeted 4.62%, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gave up 0.94%.

There were no gainers among the stocks listed under the NZX 50 index in the early trading on Thursday.

Among the major losers in the early trading were- Air New Zealand by 1.85%, Guinness Peat Group by 1.32%, New Zealand Oil & Gas by 2.61%, New Zealand Refining Company by 1.47%, PGG Wrightson by 2.03%, Pike River Coal by 4.63%, Rakon by 1.87%, Ryman Healthcare by 2.47%, Skellerup Holdings by 3.33% and Tower by 2.44%.

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