RTTNews - Higher opens are expected Thursday for the New Zealand and Australia sharemarkets. The region's markets get a positive lead from Wall Street, helped by better-than-expected sales from Ford.

New Zealand's market moved lower on Wednesday. The benchmark NZX-50 index declined 15.74 points or 0.6 percent to close at 2,780.37.

Trading volume was 29.3 million shares valued at NZ$75.5 million.

There were 35 stocks closing higher, 41 were lower and 40 unchanged.

The list of the session's most heavily traded stocks includes AMP New Zealand Office Trust, which rose NZ$0.01, Fletcher Building was down .16, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was down .03, Goodman Property Trust was up a penny, Telecom Corp of NZ was unchanged and Tourism Holdings was down a penny.

Among the Australia-NZ dual-listed stocks, AMP was down .08, Australia and NZ Bank was down .24, APN News & Media was down a nickel, Goodman was up two cents, Lion Nathan was up a penny, Telstra was down .04 and Westpac Bank was down .57.

In Australia, stocks likewise opened the new fiscal year on the down side. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 80.9 points or 2.05 percent to close at 3,874.0 while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 75.5 points or 1.91 percent to 3,872.3.

Trading volume totaled 1.82 billion shares valued at A$3.53 billion.

There were 438 stocks closing higher, 489 were lower and 322 unchanged.

The mining stocks suffered from weaker commodity prices.
BHP Billiton declined A$0.82, rival Rio Tinto was down .60, Fortescue Metals was down .10 and OZ Minerals down .03.

Lower world crude oil prices sent the energy stocks downward. Woodside Petroleum declined .76, Santos was down .21 while Oil Search was up .06.

The gold miners were lower, with Newcrest Mining down .23, Newmont Mining down .15 and Lihir Gold down .02.

The major banks were lower, with Australia and NZ Bank down .24, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was down .91, National Australia shed .75 and Westpac was down .57.

In the retail sector, Woolworths dropped .20, Wesfarmers declined .40, Harvey Norman was down .06, JB Hi-Fi fell .60 and David Jones was down a dime.

Among the telecoms, Telstra was down .04, Telecom Corp of NZ was down a penny and Singapore Telecom was up two cents.

In overseas action, stocks on Wall Street were headed for a positive close on Wednesday. A half-hour before the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 67.42 points or 0.80 percent at 8,514.42, the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.84 points or 0.65 percent at 1,846.88 and the Standard and Poor's 500 index was ahead 4.96 points or 0.54 percent at 924.28.

Asia/Pacific markets finished mixed on Wednesday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Average was down 1.,51 points or 0.19 percent at 9,939.93.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 149.78 points or 0.81 percent at 18,378.73.

The Shanghai Composite index in China was up 48.79 points or 1.65 percent at 3,008.15.

The Jakarta Composite index in Indonesia advanced 33.10 points or 1.63 percent at 2,059.88.

India's BSE 30 index was up 151.63 points or 1.05 percent to 14,645.47.

The KOSPI/Seoul Composite index in South Korea rose 21.59 points or 1.55 percent to 1,411.66.

The Taiwan Weighted Index advanced 146.81 points or 2.28 percent to 6,578.97.

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