The New Zealand share market, bolstered by an earnings upgrade from the NZX's biggest stock and by a firmer Australian market, had bounced off its lows after earlier suffering from the aftermath of Wall Street's big rout.
By 1.30 pm the S&P/NZX50 index was down by 211 points or 2.2 per cent at 9269, having earlier dipped by 5.4 per cent to 8967.
Meanwhile, Australian stocks defied expectations and managed a slight gain - the S&P/ASX200 gaining 53 points or 1.05 per cent.
The market's biggest stock - Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, rallied sharply after the company upgraded its earnings prospects. The stock last traded at $27.68, up $2.48, or 9.8 per cent from Monday's close.
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The US decline - its worst since the 1987 crash - was despite the best efforts of the US Federal Reserve, which cut its fed funds rate to near zero in response to the coronavirus outbreak - the second emergency cut in two weeks.
Spooked investors flocked to US-Treasuries taking yields down 20 basis points to 0.76 per cent.
US stocks were savaged as huge swathes of the economy come closer to shutting down due to the coronavirus outbreak, from airlines to restaurants.
The regulation arm of the NZX this morning reminded listed companies that it has circuit-breakers at its disposal to manage market volatility and can halt trading to calm disorderly trading.
These circuit-breakers apply at a financial product level rather than at a market level, with tiered trigger points depending on the prevailing price of a security.
The stock market operator's reminder came as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission directed a number of large ASX market participants to limit the number of trades they make daily until further notice.
In the last week, a number of New Zealand listed companies have already taken big hits.
These include Air New Zealand, Sky TV and a number of businesses in the tourism industry.
Stuart Williams, head of equities at Nikko Asset Management, said the local market was following Wall Street's lead, but the main event will be the government's multi-billion fiscal stimulus package.
A strong announcement has the potential to help stabilise the market, which has been extremely volatile as investors grapple with the constantly changing outlook, he said.
"We are in a spiral of bad and deteriorating news, what we need is some supportive news so that people feel a bit more confident about how this will play out in the medium term."
Vista Group International, which today cancelled its upcoming dividend payment and withdrew its earnings guidance, fell 13.8 per cent to $1.50 when it came out of a trading halt this morning.
Retirement village operator Summerset Group fell 11.4 per cent to $4.35, commercial real estate investor Kiwi Property Group dropped 11.8 per cent to $1.01, and electricity generator-retailer Genesis Energy sank 10.5 per cent to $2.355.
Air New Zealand remains on a trading halt. There's been speculation the national carrier may get a bailout from the government, which owns more than half of the airline.
- With BusinessDesk