The New Zealand sharemarket continued to reflect a patchy economy, ending today mixed on light volume.

The Warehouse finished down 6c at 386, having risen to 402 after reporting a 17 per cent rise in half-year net profit to $57.4 million.

The retailer described the recovery in overall retail spending as patchy. While economists said retail sales data for January from Statistics New Zealand was soft and reflective of a sluggish rebound in the economy.

"It was a solid enough result. I think a fair bit of it is to do with the overall market. There has been very little follow through on a lot of companies once they have reported," said Adrian Vance at Hamilton, Hindin, Greene.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 1.69 points at 3225.136. Turnover was worth $84.5m. There were 39 rises and 41 falls among the 116 stocks traded.

Briscoe Group fell 2c to 135, while Pumpkin Patch rose 3c to 218. Michael Hill fell 1c to 73.

Among leading stocks, Contact Energy fell 5c to 608, Telecom fell 1c to 223, and Fletcher Building rose 4c to 815.

Pyne Gould Corp rose 1c to 48 after its finance unit Marac was accepted to the extension of the Government's retail deposit guarantee scheme.

Trading in Strategic Finance preference shares was halted after the finance company was placed in the hands of receivers by its trustee.

Nuplex rose 3c to 333, TrustPower rose 4c to 719 and Auckland Airport 3c to 197. Sanford fell 4c to 470, Rakon fell 3c to 100 and SkyCity fell 3c to 320.

Wellington Drive Technologies fell 0.5c to 8, Rubicon fell 5c to 95 and Pacific Edge Biotechnology fell 3c to 20.

Comvita rose 10c to 200 and Wakefield Heath, which is expanding into the Bay of Plenty, rose 24c to 724.

In the United States rising bank shares led a late-day rally, helping the S&P 500 hit a 17-month closing high and offsetting worries China may move to cool its overheating economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4 per cent to end at 10,611.84, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.4 per cent to 1150.24, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.4 per cent to 2368.46.

- NZPA