RTTNews - The New Zealand stock market opened slightly higher on Wednesday, following a cautiously optimistic overnight lead from the Wall Street where U.S. stocks closed modestly higher on a spike in buying interest in the afternoon.

The benchmark NZX 50 index was up 7.41 points or 0.26% to 2,880.61 shortly after the market opened for the day, while the broader NZX All Capital index added 11.32 points or 0.39% to 2,951.69.

New Zealand's stock market closed steeply higher on Tuesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index advanced 52.3 points or 1.82 percent to 2,873.2.The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 47.7 million shares valued at NZ$94.3 million.

Overseas, U.S. stocks finished modestly higher on Tuesday as a spike in buying interest in the afternoon helped stocks to finish modestly higher on Tuesday after showing a lack of direction for much of the day. The major averages all finished in positive territory by solid margins, building on their recent gains.

U.S. stocks started strong following a slew of largely promising earnings, with five Dow components reporting their quarterly results. Despite beating Wall Street estimates, Caterpillar (CAT), Coca-Cola (KO), DuPont (DD), Merck (MRK) and United Technologies (UTX) saw mixed reaction.

In other news, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the House Financial Services Committee today, stating that the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilization and that the stimulus authorities pumped into the global economy late last year probably helped to avoid a collapse of the financial system.

Bernanke also said that the Fed is prepared to remove its stimulus when the time is appropriate in order to avoid a spike in inflation. However, he reiterated that the economy is still in a fragile state, with unemployment high and consumer spending shaky.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama continued to push for the passage of his healthcare plan on Tuesday afternoon, looking to gather additional support for the much-discussed bill that aims to provide universal healthcare.

The major U.S. averages moved to the upside heading into the close, finishing near their best levels of the day. The Dow advanced 67.79 points or 0.8 percent to 8,915.94, the Nasdaq climbed 6.91 points or 0.4 percent to 1,916.20 and the S&P 500 rose 3.45 points or 0.4 percent to 954.58.

Crude oil gained for the fifth session in a row on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday and finished at its highest level in almost three weeks. Investors looked ahead to the government's inventory report on Wednesday. Light sweet crude for August delivery settled at $64.72, up 74 cents on the session. The August contract closed at the end of the session.

In the early trading on the New Zealand stock market on Wednesday, market leader Telecom remained unchanged, as second ranked Contact Energy added 0.17% and Fletcher Building, the third best stock, dropped 0.43%.

In the retail sector, Hallenstein Glasson surged 1.57% and Warehouse climbed 1.10%, as jewelry retailer Michael Hill International and Pumpkin Patch remained unchanged. Among energy stocks, TrustPower collected 1.08%, as Vector remained unchanged.

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

Among other notable stocks, Infratil, Methven, Mainfreight, Nuplex and Sky Network Television remained unchanged, as Sky City surged 3.28% and Steel & Tube Holdings gained 1.35%. Both Fisher & Paykel Appliances and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare remained unchanged.

Apart from Fletcher Building, there were only two other losers among the shares listed under the NZX 50 index in the early trading on Wednesday. While New Zealand Refining Company lost 0.72%, Pike River Coal Limited gave up 1.75%.

The morning's major gainers included-- Auckland International Airport by 1.27%, Ebos Group by 0.96%, Freightways by 1.05%, Goodman Property Trust by 1.06%, Guinness Peat Group by 13.73%, ING Property Trust by 1.47%, Kiwi Income Property Trust by 1.06%, New Zealand Oil & Gas by 0.62%, PGG Wrightson by 1.03%, Rakon by 1.41% and Ryman Healthcare by 1.91%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com