The New Zealand sharemarket was firm today as the NZ dollar rallied on news that a recession was averted in the December quarter.

The international backdrop was also positive with equity markets in Asia posting gains but the corporate news flow in this market was meagre.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 11.455 points, or 0.339 per cent, at 3387.245. Turnover was worth $121.99 million. There were 43 rises and 30 falls among the 108 stocks traded.

News that the economy expanded by 0.2 per cent in the December quarter was well received by financial markets fearing a negative number but economists said the broad message from the data was that exporters were doing well while household spending stalled.

"GDP (Gross Domestic Product) helped but it is a lagging fact. We've had another earthquake since then and our feeling is things are pretty tough out there," said James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital.

He said property listings had kicked on today and volume in Telecom was good.

DNZ Property rose 3c to 124 after it said that brewer Lion Nathan had extended the lease on its huge East Tamaki site. The transaction reduced DNZ Property's lease expiry risk.

Property for Industry rose 2c to 116 and AMP Office rose 1c to 81.

Hallenstein Glasson rose 2c to 373 after reporting a 16.5 per cent fall in interim profit.

NZ Refining was unchanged at 500 after saying its refining margin was healthy in January and February.

OceanaGold lifted 13c to 355, with spot gold prices near recent records.

Mainfreight shares rose 11c to 879 on a day it received shareholder approval for its purchase of Wim Bosman Group.

Fletcher Building lifted 10c to 895, and Telecom eased 0.5c to 199.5. Sky City was down 1c to 334. Rakon eased 2c to 101, Ebos eased 5c to 745 and Contact Energy eased 1c to 578. Air NZ eased 1c to 110 and Kathmandu eased 2c to 220.

In the United States, stocks advanced as materials shares rose, but rising commodities prices due to turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa could keep rallies modest.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.6 per cent to 12,086.02, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3 per cent to 1297.54, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.5 per cent to 2698.30.

- NZPA