The New Zealand sharemarket started the week strongly after the US market performed better than expected on Friday, and as companies continue to signal better trading in the most recent months of their interim reports.

The benchmark NZX50 index closed up 22.666 points, or 0.729 per cent, at 3129.754 after opening up around 9 points. Turnover was worth $121.6 million, of which more than half was in Telecom shares. There were 56 rises and 28 falls among the 116 stocks traded.

"It was a positive day. On Friday when the Federal Reserve announced an increase in the discount rate the Asian markets were expecting the Dow to be down on Friday and that did not eventuate," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton, Hindin, Greene.
Cavalier Carpets rose 9c to 267 after reporting 6 per cent fall in interim profit. Mr Williamson said that in line with other companies the carpet maker noted improving trading conditions.

Telecom rose 2c to 236 on news that the telecommunications commissioner has recommended Telecom's and Vodafone's final undertakings on mobile termination rates be accepted as an alternative to regulation.

"There is still uncertainty there," Mr Williamson said.

Auckland Airport rose 3c to 188 after carrying out the bookbuild to sell the shares not taken up by retail investors in its capital raising. The airport reports earnings on Friday.

Contact Energy, which reports earnings tomorrow, rose 10c to 580, reflecting strength in the broad market.

NZX fell 1c to 203 on a day NZ Regulation referred issues relating to NZX's handling of Allied Farmers inclusion in the NZX50 to the Securities Commission.

Fletcher Building fell 2c to 790. Property for Industry fell 2c to 111 after holding its full-year net dividend despite challenging market conditions.

AMP, which reported last week, rose 14c to 809.

NZ Refining rose 4c to 340 and NZOG rose 3c to 154. Nuplex rose 4c to 333 and SkyTV rose 2c to 482. Sanford fell 5c to 457. GPG fell 1c to 81, Fisher & Paykel Appliances fell 1c to 60 and AMP Office Trust fell 1c to 71. SkyCity rose 3c to 320 and Rakon rose 1c to 100.

In the United States on Friday stocks edged higher in choppy trading as investors took the Federal Reserve's surprise increase in its discount rate as further evidence the financial system is strengthening.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 10.66 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 10,403.56. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 2.51 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 1109.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.78 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2244.49.

- NZPA