The New Zealand sharemarket fell to its lowest level in 10 months during a mixed session in which companies reporting disappointing results were punished.

The benchmark NZX-50 index recovered to close up 23.646 points, or 0.785 per cent, at 3034.833. Turnover was worth $92.9 million. There were 47 rises and 39 falls among the 108 stocks traded.

Sanford closed down 4.3 per cent, or 19c, at 427 after reporting a sharp fall in profit yesterday, while Mainfreight fell 3c to 596 after reporting a 2.5 per cent increase in annual profit.

"The market is not particularly happy with the Sanford result," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton, Hindin, Greene.

"Mainfreight was maybe not quite what the market was hoping for but the outlook is for continued improvement," he said. Investors would also take heart that Mainfreight had cut cost and it could benefit when the US economy turns around as it has a big business there.

Telecom rose 1c to 191 on a day in which it commented on a number of options for separation of its business at an investor day in Sydney.

Mr Williamson said he was not expecting any improvement in the share price until the issue of separation was clarified.

Fletcher Building rose 22c to 793 and Auckland Airport rose 4c to 187. Contact Energy rose 6c to 592, Nuplex added 3c to 300, and Ebos Group lifted 5c to 605.

Cavalier Corp rose 6c to 230 after initially falling 4c to 220. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare also turned around a weak opening to close up 6c at 331.

Hellaby fell 7c to 151 and SkyCity rose 1c to 292. Air NZ rose 1c to 121. AMP Office Trust fell 1c to 71. NZ Refining fell 5c to 325.

OceanaGold rose 56c to 434.

Postie Plus Group rose 2c to 37 after reporting higher third quarter sales.

In the United States, Wall Street staged yet another late-day reversal to end lower as news suggesting China was reassessing its euro-zone debt holdings pushed investors into profit-taking mode.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.7 per cent to 9974.45 -- dropping below 10,000 for the first time since February 8, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.6 per cent to 1067.95, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.7 per cent to 2195.88.

- NZPA