The New Zealand sharemarket had a sleepy start to its final session of the year, with little trading activity.

The benchmark NZX-50 index was barely changed after the opening 15 minutes - down 0.8 point to 3220.11.

Among the heavyweight stocks, Telecom was all square at $2.50, Fletcher Building down 1c to $7.99 and Contact Energy shares were untraded.

Transport company Mainfreight, which shed 10c yesterday, fell another 5c to $5.60 and Trustpower eased 3c to $7.28.

Other stocks to trade early showed little, if any movement. GPG eased 1c to 83c, as did Pumpkin Patch to $2.02, while Vector firmed 1c to $2.01.

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On Wall Street stocks edged lower as investors took profits in some of the year's better performers, offsetting a much better-than-expected report on Midwest business activity, Reuters reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.50 points, or 0.10 per cent, at 10,534.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.17 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 1124.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 4.43 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 2283.97.