Key Points:

The New Zealand sharemarket slid in early trade, after falls in United States equities on fears of a global recession and a rash of disappointing earnings.

Yesterday, the benchmark NZSX-50 index had closed up 62.1 points, or 2.15 per cent, also following the lead of overseas markets.

Around 10.20am today the index was down 28.72 points, or 0.97 per cent, to 2923.3.

Among leading stocks, Telecom was down 5c early to $2.39, following its 6c fall yesterday when it was one of few top-50 stocks to decline.

Contact Energy was down 15c to $7.40 after a 25c gain yesterday, while Fletcher Building slipped 10c early today to $6.35 after rising 24c yesterday.

The Warehouse lost 15c to $3.90, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was down 4c to $3.23, Infratil dropped 2c to $2.05, and NZ Oil & Gas was down 3c to $1.20.

Pike River Coal was down 4c to $1.38, Sanford lost 4c to $5.50, while Ryman Healthcare slipped 2c to $1.59.

In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.5 per cent to 9033.66, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 3.1 per cent, to 955.05.

The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 4.1 per cent to 1696.68.

With further signs that credit markets were starting to heal, investors' attention turned to the dismal profit outlook.

Earnings disappointments were widespread, while oil companies and miners weighed on the broader market as commodity prices slid.