The New Zealand sharemarket eased early, with Fletcher Building leading the decline after a trading halt for a share placement most of yesterday.

Fletcher shares were down 31c, or 5 per cent, early to $5.89.

Today the company said it raised $406.5 million through a placement of shares to institutional investors at 535c a share.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 5.66 points to 2563.59 as the New Zealand market again failed to follow United States stocks up. The index lost 21 points yesterday.

Among other stocks losing ground today, Kiwi Income Property Trust was down 4c to 92c after completing a $50m institutional placement at 87.9c per unit. Trustpower dropped 5c to $7.00.

Doing better early was Contact Energy, lifting 14c or 2.5 per cent, to $5.70, while Rakon added 8c to $1.30, Port of Tauranga was up 5c to $5.10, and Hallenstein Glasson gained 4c to $2.18.

Stocks gaining 2c included Air NZ to 92c, Infratil to $1.44, and Sky City to $2.77.

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In the US, stocks climbed as factory and home sales data raised hopes the economic downturn is moderating, sparking a broad advance.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 2 per cent to 7761.60, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.7 per cent to 811.08, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 1.5 per cent to 1551.60.

- NZPA