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NZ sharemarket opens firmer

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 18 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket firmed in early trading today shortly after one of its blue chip stocks reported its annual result and taking heart from a positive session on Wall Street.

Fletcher Building reported 4 percent falls in both net profit from ordinary activities and sales, but said it improved performance through cost cuts. Final dividend of 15c per share is up 1c on last year.

The benchmark NZX-50 index gained 14.82 points or 0.49 percent to 3021.37 in the first 15 minutes of trading today.

Sky City, which also increased its final dividend when reporting a 12 percent rise in underlying full year net profit yesterday, inched up 1c to 290 after shedding 10c yesterday.

Market operator NZX, which announced a 91 percent dive in first half profit yesterday, eased 2c to 139 early today after losing 3c ahead of its result.

Telecom gained 2c to 209 and Contact Energy rose 4c to 578.

Other leading stocks to rise in early trading included Sky TV, up 4c to 499, Fisher & Paykel Health 2c to 282 and Freightways 2c to 293. The latter had put on 6c yesterday after it said its second half was an improvement over the first six months.

US stocks rose overnight after earnings from retail giants Wal-Mart and Home Depot topped expectations and a $US39 ($NZ54.8) billion takeover bid in the agriculture sector bolstered confidence in the corporate outlook.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 103.84 points, or 1.01 percent, at 10,405.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 13.16 points, or 1.22 percent, at 1092.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 27.57 points, or 1.26 percent, at 2209.44.

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