The New Zealand sharemarket rose slightly during a shortened trading session ahead of the Easter holiday break.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 8.238 points, or 0.252 per cent, at 3276.231, which is its highest level in nearly 11 weeks.

Shares in Restaurant Brands climbed to their highest level in nearly eight years, gaining 2c to 204 and trading as high as 205 today.

Mainfreight was up another 5c to an 18-month high at 639, with today's rise on top of a 9c gain yesterday. Mainfreight was seen as benefiting from an economic recovery.

Fletcher Building, trading ex a 14c dividend today, was down just 1c to 834.

Goodman Fielder fell 8c to 187 after Australia's competition regulator turned down its plan to sell its commercial fats and oil division.

Vector, trading ex a 6.5c dividend today, was down 7c to 205.

Air New Zealand, which today rejected a media report its chief executive may leave in the next 18 months, rose 4c to 131.

Contact Energy rose 7c to 647 after lifting 22c yesterday.

OceanaGold, which said today it had closed all remaining hedge facilities and would sell gold on the spot market, rose 25c to 325. The move was previously signalled.

Scott Technology, which reported its interim profit earlier this week, rose 5c to 125.

The Warehouse rose 3c to 378, while Fisher & Paykel Appliances was unchanged at 62. Xero was unchanged at 165 after saying revenue was in excess of $3m in the year to March 31.

Telecom fell 1c to 216, Nuplex fell 2c to 351 and Steel & Tube fell 7c to 253.

In the United States, stocks fell as a report showing a surprising drop in private sector employment stoked concerns about the health of the labour market two days before the government's key jobs data.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.5 per cent to 10,856.63, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 0.3 per cent to 1169.43, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent to 2397.96.

- NZPA