Wellington, Feb 3 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket ended a fairly quiet session slightly lower, although brokers said good volumes were traded in leading shares.
Many Asian markets were closed to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and the United States equity market was lacklustre on Wednesday.
The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 2.41 points, or 0.07 percent, at 3349.892. Turnover was worth $115.1 million. There were 38 rises and 35 falls among the 110 stocks traded.
Fletcher Building rose 1c to 791 with 4.8 million shares traded and Telecom, which reports interim earnings next Friday, eased 2c to 220 with 8.9 million shares traded.
There was also good volume in Fisher and Paykel Healthcare with 4.9 million shares traded on a day the price fell 4c to 320.
NZ Refining rose 13c to 493 as the violence in Egypt continues to put upward pressure on oil prices.
NZX rose 2c to 177 on a day it reported mixed operating statistics for January.
Auckland Airport, which owns airports in cyclone-affected north Queensland, eased a cent to 223 but the movement was not out of the ordinary.
Briscoe Group was unchanged on light volume at 136 after reporting sales for the 12 months to the end of January edged up from a year earlier, with a strong start to the December and Christmas trading period offsetting disappointing Boxing Day sales.
The company also said, excluding a one-off tax adjustment, it expected it would have been able to report a full-year tax-paid profit of more than $23 million, 10 percent up on a year earlier.
"They were disappointing numbers as there had been some talk that they had had a better Christmas," David Price at Forysth Barr said.
He said the retail environment was "pretty difficult".
SkyCity rose 1c to 791, Contact Energy rose 2c to 622 and Cavalier Carpets rose 2c to 310. Air NZ rose 1c to 139.
Wellington Drive Technologies rose 0.3c to 2.1 after concluding a capital raising.
On a day in which employment data was weaker than expected, causing economists to tweak growth forecasts for the fourth quarter, Hellaby Holdings fell 3c to 221, Freightways fell 7c to 326 and Tourism Holdings fell 1c to 74.
Mainfreight fell 4c to 836 and SkyTV fell 5c to 533.
Listed property fund Kermadec Property rose 1c to 53 after saying new leases will boost its occupancy rates and earnings.
Meanwhile, United States stocks seesawed between modest gains and losses with investors reluctant to make big bets on stocks even though data showed US private employers added more jobs than expected in January.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.81 points, or 0.02 percent, at 12,041.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 3.56 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1304.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.63 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2749.56.
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