The New Zealand sharemarket tumbled in early trading, with Fletcher Building down 1 per cent to a five-month low, after equities dived in the United States on Friday.

Around 10.25am the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 15.5 points to 2970.26 after falling 16.6 points on Friday.

Fletcher Building shares fell 8c early to $7.54, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shares fell 6c or 2 per cent to $2.96, their lowest level in nearly nine months.

Contact Energy was down 5c early to $5.69, Hellaby Holdings lost 3c to $1.67, NZ Oil & Gas fell 3c to $1.22, Restaurant Brands was down 3c to $2.30, and Telecom slipped 1c to $1.88.

Shares in NZ Farming Systems Uruguay were untraded early after Singapore's Olam International launched a takeover bid at 55c a share for the 81.55 per cent of the company it does not own. Farming Systems shares closed at 41c on Friday.

Port of Tauranga gained 5c early to $6.90, while Ebos Group lifted 3c to $6.38.

***

In the US, dismal consumer sentiment data and anaemic revenues from GE and two big banks slammed stocks on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 2.5 per cent to 10,097.90, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 2.9 per cent to 1064.88, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 3.1 per cent to 2179.05.

For the week, the Dow fell 1 per cent, while the S&P 500 dropped 1.2 per cent and the Nasdaq gave up 0.8 per cent.

- NZPA