Wellington, Oct 7 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket was little changed on a day in which the strength of the Australian economy was a talking point while investors waited for data on the struggling United States economy on Friday.
The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 1.039 points, or 0.032 percent, at 3236.081, after opening up around 2.24 points. Several times in the past few weeks the index has pushed towards, but failed to overtake, the intraday high near 3253 points, reached on September 21 -- the highest level since early May.
US stocks were mixed overnight as that market took a breather ahead of US jobs data later this week. The NZ dollar fell sharply against the Australian dollar today on news that Australia added a much greater than expected 49,500 jobs in September.
"This employment report is very encouraging once again for the (Australian) growth outlook over the fourth quarter of 2010, as it is further evidence that the household sector is moving back into the economy's driving seat," TD Securities said.
Michael Hill rose 3c, or 4.41 percent, to 71 after reporting total sales for the three months to the end of September rose 12.8 percent from a year earlier. Australian same store sales lifted 11.5 percent, with all store sales up 11.1 percent.
The Warehouse eased 7c to 388 and Cavalier Carpets fell 4c to 291.
Fletcher Building eased 2c to 805 and Telecom eased 1c to 204.
Comvita was unchanged at 190 after saying it has sold a 3.5 percent stake to its Asian partners.
Air NZ rose 1c to 130 and Auckland Airport rose 1c to 207. Contact Energy rose 3c to 575.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 1c to 313 and Freightways rose 1c to 300.
SkyCity eased 3c to 292 and Sanford eased 5c to 400.
OceanaGold fell 1c to 499.
In the United States, stocks dipped after a disappointing report on the jobs market renewed concern about the economy. Treasury yields sank to new lows as investors sought safety and anticipated more stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve.
Payroll company ADP said private employers cut jobs in September for the first time in seven months. Investors are seeing a silver lining in the news, however, hoping that it could help push the Federal Reserve to take more action to get the US economy going next month, including stepping up its purchases of bonds.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent to close at 10,967.65, the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1159.97, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.8 percent to 2380.66.
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