The New Zealand sharemarket nudged lower in a session lacking much in the way of corporate news.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 9.39 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 3045.11, after yesterday gaining nearly 10 points.

Among top stocks to lose ground, Telecom fell a cent to 207, following yesterday's 6c gain, as investors wait to see if it has done enough to win the favour of the Government.

Contact Energy was down 2c at 567, Fletcher Building shed 6c to 754, and Auckland Airport fell a cent to 196.

On the other side, all rising a cent were Sky City, at 307, Sky TV, at 510, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, at 295.

Hallenstein Glasson shares closed down 5c at 390, after rising 13c yesterday and 22c on Friday to a 28-month high following a forecast of a big profit increase.

Turners & Growers shares were up 4c at 145 following news the World Trade Organisation ruled Australia's decades-old restrictions on imports of New Zealand apples broke international trade laws and should be amended.

Late this afternoon, Australia said it would appeal the WTO ruling.

Port of Tauranga gained 1c to 676, carpetmaker Cavalier rose 3c to 262, and Air New Zealand gained a cent to 115.

Allied Farmers gained 0.4c, or 11 per cent, to 3.9c, recovering after news yesterday the company was halting plans for a $19.3m capital raising while it continues talks with the trustee of its finance arm.

Telstra rose 5c to 421 despite saying it would receive no compensation if the proposed high-speed broadband network is scrapped as promised by Australia's opposition.

ANZ gained 10c to 2885, Westpac fell 44c to 2921, and AMP rose 5c to 689.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 1 per cent at 4547.

Earlier, US stocks rose in the quietest session of the year on speculation that the Federal Reserve would signal potential steps to boost the sluggish economic recovery.

Volume was a mere 5.71 billion shares, compared with last year's estimated daily average of 9.65 billion shares, as investors were wary of taking new positions before the Fed's statement tomorrow morning (NZT).

Shares of Hewlett-Packard tumbled after chief executive Mark Hurd resigned late on Friday (local time), following an investigation into sexual harassment charges by a female contractor.

- NZPA