The New Zealand sharemarket was weaker today, reflecting weak offshore markets and a quiet corporate news day.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 35.867 points, or 1.174 per cent, at 3018.892, after losing 6.5 points yesterday. It is drifting back toward last Thursday's 10 month low around 2990. Turnover was worth $82.39 million. There were 19 rises and 45 falls among the 104 stocks traded.

Stephen Wright at ASB Securities said Telecom was only down 1c to 186 and Fletcher Building was down 2c at 820.

But Contact Energy lost 17c to 576, and Nuplex was down 8c to 293.

After a holiday on Monday, trading was choppy in the United States for much of its first day back, a sign that investors weren't sure where to put their money. Investors were juggling worries about Europe's debt problems with upbeat reports on US manufacturing and construction.

US stocks took a late-day dive after the government said it was starting criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The plunge came shortly before the close and minutes after Attorney-General Eric Holder made the announcement. Stocks in energy companies and oil service providers tumbled on the news, and other stocks followed.

Most Asian markets were weak today, adding to the negative backdrop for the local market.

Pike River Coal fell 2c to 98, SkyTV fell 2c to 462, Auckland Airport fell 5c to 185 and Ebos fell 5c to 605.

Mainfreight fell 6c to 620 and Hallenstein Glasson fell 8c to 330. NZX lost 5c to 161.

Restaurant Brands rose 2c to 234 and ING Property Trust rose 1c to 72. TrustPower rose 2c to 712, Methven rose 1c to 161 and Infratil rose 1c to 163. Tourism Holdings rose 2c to 80 and ING Property rose 1c to 72.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.1 per cent to 10,024.02, the tech-rich Nasdaq index fell 1.5 per cent to 2222.33, and the S&P 500 index slipped 1.7 per cent to 1070.71.

- NZPA