Key Points:

The New Zealand share market gave up more ground today as foreign markets fell and a mixed corporate reporting season geared up.

The NZSX-50 fell 51.617 points, or 1.931 per cent, to 2621.005. There were 17 rises and 71 falls among the 116 stock traded and turnover was worth $109.5 million.

Telecom, having enjoyed renewed support this year, fell 2c to 248.

PGG Wrightson fell 22c to 98 as the media speculated about the extent of the company's debt and the probable writedowns from a failed bid for Silver Fern Farms.

There were positives though. Vector was unchanged at 226 after reporting a strong result but very few of its shares trade.

Taylors Group rose 1c to 123 after reporting a rise in profit and Skellerup eased 1c to 70 after reporting an increase in profit.

Tourism Holdings, which announced a half-year loss of $300,000, dropped 9c to 56.

Air New Zealand fell 3c to 88 after reporting a fall in passenger numbers.

Westpac fell 46c to 2054 after updating the market on large corporate loan exposures.

"There is some positive and some negative news but the stocks which are under pressure are the ones that have already had profit downgrades," said Stephen Wright at ASB Securities.

"Then there are stocks where there are debt concerns," he said.

Nuplex was down 21c to 185 and Fisher & Paykel Appliances was down 8c to 64.

Tenon fell 5c to 50 and Cavalier fell 5c to 180. NZ Refining fell 25 to 695. Rakon fell 11c to 75. NZX fell 15c to 570. Michael Hill rose 1c to 52.

The accelerating global economic downturn unnerved world markets on Tuesday, sending US stocks to their lowest point since November's bear market lows and driving the price of gold to a seven-month high.

Deepening concerns about worldwide economic growth and the global banking system, in particular, sent investors scurrying to the relative safety of gold and government debt.

US and European banking shares plunged, helping push MSCI's all-country world index below 200 for the first time since late November.

The sell-off came even as US President Barack Obama signed a economic stimulus bill into law in Denver.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 297.81 points, or 3.79 per cent, at 7552.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 37.67 points, or 4.56 per cent, at 789.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 63.70 points, or 4.15 per cent, at 1470.66.

- NZPA