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NZ Sharemarket Slips Early

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 23 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket slipped in early trade, with Contact Energy shares falling after the company reported flat underlying earnings in the six months to December.

Contact today said its underlying earnings after tax for the half year were up just 0.3 percent from a year earlier to $80.1 million, as high hydro inflows resulted in low wholesale prices.

Shortly after the sharemarket opened today, Contact shares were leading the decline with a fall of 10c, or 1.7 percent, to 570. Among other leading shares Fletcher Building lifted 1c to 791 and Telecom was unchanged on 236.

Overall, the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 3.99 points to 3125.78 around 10.15am, having risen 22.7 points yesterday.

Other shares falling early today included Sky TV, down 2c to 480, and The Warehouse down 2c to 371.

Shares rising early included NZ Refining Co, up 3c to 343, Nuplex up 2c to 335, and Freightways up 2c to 304.

In the United States stocks ended flat to slightly lower as investors held back ahead of congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, while scattered buying lifted shares of health insurers and banks.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended provisionally down 0.2 percent at 10,383.38, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 0.1 percent to end unofficially at 1108.01, and the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent to close unofficially at 2242.03.

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