Shares in New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay (NZFSU) slipped 2c in early trading after one of the bidders for the company pulled out of the running.

Uruguay-based Union Agriculture Group (UAG) dropped its 60c per share bid, saying it would not lift its offer above the 70cps bid made by Olam International.

NZFSU shares were down to 70c early today after getting to 73c during the day yesterday, the highest level in nearly five months.

The market as a whole was generally flat, with the NZX-50 index down 1.53 points to 3016.72 around 10.15am, after gaining 12.2 points yesterday.

Fletcher Building dropped 3c to 750 and Sky TV lost 2c to 505.

Port of Tauranga was up 2c to 670, on top of a 3c rise yesterday after it was identified as a logical choice for bigger ships.

NZ Oil & Gas gained 2c to 120, having fallen a cent yesterday after reporting a full year net loss of $3.3m as exploration costs ate into earnings.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average closed below 10,000, a day ahead of an expected downward revision in US second-quarter economic growth and a major speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Stocks initially rose on data showing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, but the number was still too high to signal a shift in the weak labour market. The four-week average of new claims, regarded as a better gauge of trends, rose to the highest since late November.

The Dow fell 0.7 per cent to 9985.81, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 0.8 percent to 1047.22, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.1 per cent to 2118.69.