The New Zealand sharemarket had another fairly quiet session today, reflecting order flows in the absence of local news.

The benchmark NZSX-50 index closed down 29.047 points, or 0.928 per cent, at 3099.626, having started the day down around down 8.74 points.

Turnover was worth $101.95 million, of which $27.9m was trading in Fletcher Building shares. There were 35 rises and 45 falls among the 119 stocks traded.

Asian stocks drifted back near one-year highs today as investors looked past a trade spat between the United States and China.

The local business news file today included a 74 per cent fall in Ports of Auckland's profit but the port is no longer listed on the market. Port of Tauranga was unchanged at 669.

Telstra fell 17c to 383 on news that the Australian government is seeking a demerger of its fixed lines business.

"It is going down a similar path to Telecom. They are grappling with the same issues and coming up with, I guess, the same conclusion," said Stephen Wright at ASB Securities.

Telecom's price was not seen as being directly affected by the Telstra news but the stock slipped 4c to 268.

Fletcher Building rose 5c to 796 and Contact Energy eased 11c to 590.

Retail stocks were mixed after retail trade data yesterday was weaker than expected.

The Warehouse rose 3c to 425, Michael Hill fell 1c to 75 and Hallenstein Glasson rose 3c to 300. Hellaby rose 1c to 156.

Freightways rose 6c to 324 and Mainfreight rose 4c to 524. Infratil fell 1c to 165.

"The market is holding in parts," said Mr Wright.

NZOG rose 1c to 167 even though oil prices are down and the NZ dollar is up.

TrustPower rose 1c to 745 and Air NZ rose 1c to 122.

Nuplex rose 1c to 234.

Methven fell 5c to 155, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare fell 9c to 323 and SkyCity fell 6c to 327.

In the United States, stocks rose on Monday as reports of more merger activity added to a string of recent deals, suggesting investors still see value in the market after its runup of more than 50 per cent since March.

Optimism about potential deals overshadowed concerns about trade friction between the US and China after Washington imposed special duties on Chinese tyre imports.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.2 per cent at 9626.80, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.6 per cent at 1049.34, and the Nasdaq Composite Index finished 0.5 per cent higher at 2091.78.