The New Zealand share market fell sharply in the opening minutes of trade this morning in response to weakness on the major markets last week, driven by ongoing concerns about the China's economy and extremely low oil prices.

After 10 minutes of trading, the benchmark NZX50 index was down 85 points or 1.3 per cent at 6084.7.

The market has started 2016 on a weak note after finishing 2015 at a record 6324.26, and with the index having rallied by 13.2 per cent over the December quarter alone.

"Financial institutions were hit pretty hard in the overseas markets and that's started to flow through there," Forsyth Barr equity analyst James Bascand said.


Why global woes and sinking stocks don't mean US recession
Wall Street's worst ever start to a year
Asia shares rise as China steadies, Wall Street snaps back
Dollar drops as oil inventories stoke growth concerns

Europe's Euro Stoxx 50 fell by 2.4 per cent, Germany's AC and DAX closed down 2.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively. Britain's FTSE 100 fell by 1.9 per cent and in the United States, the S&P500 fell 2.2 by with the Dow Jones Industrial Index dropping 2.2 per cent.

The S&P 500 has fallen about 12 percent from its high in May, technically pushing the market into a "correction" phase.

Both the Australian and New Zealand share markets ended Friday on a stronger note.