Local fund managers are not pushing the panic button despite plunging world sharemarkets and plummeting oil prices.

The New Zealand sharemarket's S&P NZX50 index has dropped 3.9 per cent from its record high at the end of 2015, but is still a long way from wiping out the 13.2 per cent gain it put on in the final quarter of 2015.

Fund managers said that while world equity and oil market headlines looked scary, it did not feel like the market was on the cusp of another 2008-style global financial crisis.

One said it felt "more like a correction rather than a crash".


"It is certainly very disconcerting and it's understandable that people are starting to get a bit worried, but at this point I would be reluctant to say we are heading for another crisis or global recession," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.

"Growth is slow, but you've still got positive noises coming out of the major developed economies," he said. "The United States is in better shape and Europe is going well - off a low base - and New Zealand is certainly nowhere near a recessionary risk.

"The dominoes are not in place for another 2008 at this point."

Fund managers and analysts have been saying for the past two or three years that equity markets here and abroad have been looking too expensive.

Fundamentals have been looking shaky for some time in China and in the other emerging markets.

The plunge in oil prices played a big part in undermining investor sentiment, Lister said.

Fund managers said that oil prices would need to stabilise before the equity markets could, and that there were two sides to the oil story.

On one hand, low oil prices would benefit consumers and corporates around the world by lowering their costs.

On the other, big oil companies and the financial institutions that funded them were likely to suffer, taking equity markets with them.

Looking ahead, the New Zealand dollar was already in decline - down US4c so far this year, which would help exporters and those investors with offshore holdings.

Lister said that from here, growth would be more subdued, returns would be lower and markets would be more volatile.

"The upcoming reporting season would provide a timely update on the health, or otherwise, of corporates here and the world.

"New Zealand investors have been quite lucky - New Zealand markets can weather the storm much better than people might think," Lister said.

Brokers and fund managers have been complaining that the local market has looked overvalued, particularly as yield-seeking investors have switched from fixed-interest markets into shares because of abnormally low interest rates.

"As investors we have recognised that we have been paying very big prices compared with historically what we have had to, because we have been in a low interest rates environment," Rickey Ward, New Zealand equities manager at JB Were said.

"When you have large falls, there are always going to be comparisons with other times.

"The US is looking pretty good and China's economy is still growing, so the underlying picture is not bad.

"We see this as a correction rather than a crash."