Telecom shares powered further ahead to a new 16-month high, continuing to benefit from yesterday's announcement it had snared nearly 70 percent of the Government's ultrafast broadband initiative.

After lifting 15c yesterday, Telecom's share price was up a further 7.5c in early trading today to 251.

It was the standout in a broad based early rise in the market, with the benchmark NZX-50 index gaining 21.18 points to 3580.73 around 10.20am, its highest level in nearly three years. Yesterday the index ended up 5.4 points.

Restaurant Brands was up 5c to 265 early today, Fletcher Building gained 4c to 905, Sky TV added 3c to 570, Nuplex was up 3c to 313, Sky City lifted 2c to 377, Infratil gained 2c to 192, and Hallenstein Glasson added 2c to 419.

Among the few shares falling early, Trustpower lost 20c to 739 on low volume, NZX dropped 3c to 244, and Port of Tauranga was down 2c to 894, while Contact Energy was unchanged on 596.

Trustpower was ex a 20c dividend, and NZX was ex a 2.75c dividend.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slipped 1c to 310 after reporting an 11 percent fall in full year net profit to $63.9 million, excluding deferred tax charges, as the company was hit by the strength of the NZ dollar against the greenback.

In the United States, stocks dipped in light volume as lingering concerns about a slowdown in growth more than offset gains in energy shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2 per cent to 12,356.21, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 0.1 per cent to 1316.28, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent to 2746.16.

- NZPA