Overseas worry ripples to local market, with 34 stocks down.

New Zealand shares fell following oil-driven weakness in US and European markets, with Nuplex Industries, Sky Network Television and Orion Health Group dropping while Air New Zealand rose to a 13-year high.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 32.8 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 6080.9. Within the index, 34 stocks were down, 10 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was $100 million.

Leading the index lower was Nuplex, which fell 3.8 per cent to $4.32.

Sky Network Television, which has been struggling with the advent of online competitors like Netflix, dropped 3.4 per cent to $4.25; Orion Health Group dipped 2.6 per cent to $3.05.


The NZX 50 had fallen as much as 1 per cent before recovering later in the day as Asian stocks were mostly positive in afternoon trading.

Markets on Wall St and in Europe had tumbled overnight as oil prices continued to fall before recovering late in the session with a rebound in the oil price.

At the close of the local market, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 per cent, and China's CSI 300 composite had risen 0.7 per cent.

"New Zealand has really just followed the lead from offshore markets today," said Nick Dravitzki, equity analyst at Devon Funds Management.

"Given the level of anxiety that's been around about stocks, and how sharply Europe was down last night and the US for most of the day, in some ways it's a bit of a relief that we're only down a little bit today. There was a decent rally into Wall St's close, and that has meant today's been a lot less bad than it could have been."

Today's decline was spread across industries, with Spark New Zealand falling 2.3 per cent to $3.235, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group shed 1.8 per cent to $25.15, and Trade Me Group slipped 1.7 per cent to $4.03.

Kathmandu Holdings fell 1.3 per cent to $1.54, Metro Performance Glass was down 1.2 per cent to $1.60, and Diligent dropped 1.2 per cent to $5.95.

"Our market's still holding up better than a lot of those offshore, because a lot of the selling and the weakness was centred on anything that's in the business of oil," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.

"It was the material companies, the energy companies that got pounded, but we don't have any of those so our market's holding up reasonably well."

Air New Zealand, a beneficiary of low oil prices, was the biggest gainer on the index today. It rose 1.5 per cent to $3.115, its highest level since July 2002.

Skellerup Holdings rose 1.4 per cent to $1.46, Meridian Energy gained 1.1 per cent to $2.35, and Auckland International Airport increased 0.6 per cent to $5.55. Port of Tauranga rose 0.3 per cent to $18.10.

"You're definitely seeing a bit of relative outperformance from stocks where the earnings are reasonably predictable - your staple defensive businesses like Port of Tauranga, Auckland Airport, and power companies," Dravitzki said.

Genesis Energy rose 0.6 per cent to $1.82, and Vital Healthcare Property Trust increased 0.5 per cent to $1.88.