The local sharemarket could be in for a rocky day following another steep fall on Wall Street overnight.

Rickey Ward, New Zealand equity manager at JB Were, said the NZX tends to follow overseas markets in sympathy and you can expect that to happen today.

"It just feels like the markets are a little bit sensitive and fragile at the moment and the US market is encouraging sentiment on the weak side," he said.

"The flip side is that it doesn't frighten us too much, it's a quality-based reset not a recession so to speak."

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Overnight, US stocks skidded as weak results from retailers and mounting losses for big technology companies pushed the market back into the red for the year.

Energy companies are slumping because of a 7 per cent plunge in the price of oil. Crude is on track for its biggest loss in three years. Industrial companies are also dropping as the downward momentum in stocks builds after steep losses on Monday.

The S&P 500 index lost 38 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2652 as of 1.15pm Eastern time. The benchmark index has fallen 9.5 per cent from its record high two months ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 505 points, or 2 per cent, to 24,513. It was down as much as 596 earlier.

Investors lately have been quick to bail out of companies that show rising costs are eating into profits, and that was the case with retailers on Tuesday. Target plunged after reporting earnings that missed Wall Street's estimates due to higher expenses. Ross Stores, TJX and Kohl's also fell on disappointing forecasts.

Technology companies slid after the Trump administration proposed new national security regulations that could limit exports of high-tech products in fields such as quantum computing, machine learning, object recognition and artificial intelligence.

At the same time, investors continued to flee the technology giants that have led the stock market higher in years past. Apple fell 3.7 per cent to $178.97 and is down 22.3 per cent from the peak it reached October 3, though it's still up for the year. Microsoft lost 2.5 per cent to $102.07.

Tech stocks were among the biggest losers in Europe, too. Nokia and Ericsson, two top suppliers of telecom networks, each fell about 3 per cent. SAP, which provides business software and cloud computing services, was down over 1 per cent, as was chip maker Infineon Technologies.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 87 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 6941. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 21 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 1474.

Tech stocks took another hit on the market overnight. Photo / Getty Images
Tech stocks took another hit on the market overnight. Photo / Getty Images

Yesterday the local market also slipped, with the S&P/NZX 50 index dropping 72.63 points, or 0.8 per cent, to a three-week low of 8,720.30.

Fletcher Building was the biggest decliner after it announced first-half operating earnings will be 10 per cent lower than last year. The shares fell 11 per cent, or 62 cents, to $4.93, its lowest level since the depths of the GFC in 2009.

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A2 Milk declined 1.2 per cent to $10.35 after the milk-marketing firm said revenue climbed 41 per cent in the first four months of the June 2019 financial year.

Ward said New Zealand companies have been performing well with the exception of the occasional blemish.

"If you look at a2 Milk yesterday, it was a pretty damn good trading update. We saw the share price firm and then end up the day down. So good announcements aren't being rewarded and bad ones are being absolutely thumped – Fletcher Building yesterday and prior to that Metroglass.

"So companies certainly can't disappoint."

- Global reporting taken from the Associated Press