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NZ Sharemarket Tumbles Early

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 24 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket tumbled to a new five-year low in early trading, following further big falls on equity markets in the United States.

Contact Energy was down 10c, or 1.7 percent, early to 595 after reporting a 31 percent fall in underlying half-year earnings after tax to $79.9 million.

Pumpkin Patch gained 4c early to 87 after reporting a 7 percent fall in half-year net profit to $9.5m, on operating revenue up 3 percent to $211m.

Among leading shares Fletcher Building was down 10c early to 530, and Telecom slipped 3c to 234.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZSX-50 index was down 33.08 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2505.2, after yesterday falling 38.4 points.

The biggest early losers today included Nuplex down 25c to 100, Cavalier Corp down 10c to 140, Infratil down 7c to 162, Sanford down 5c to 520, and Port of Tauranga down 5c to 530.

Shares losing 4c early included Mainfreight to 360, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare to 328, NZ Oil & Gas to 120, and Fisher & Paykel Appliances to 51.

In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 slumped to a 12-year low on fading confidence that the US government will be able to stabilise the financial system.

Tech stocks led the session decline, with IBM falling 5 percent.

The Dow provisionally ended down 3.4 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 3.5 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 3.7 percent.

NZPA WGT Reuters mjd kn

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