Key Points:

Early gains by leading stocks helped the New Zealand sharemarket start the week on a firm footing.

Around 10.15am the benchmark NZSX-50 index was up 15.55 points to 3351.72, after having slipped 12 points on Friday.

Top stock Telecom rose 2c early to 317, adding to its gain of 3c by Friday's close after the stock had dipped to a 15-1/2-year low of 309 earlier that day.

Contact Energy was also up early today, adding 4c to 840, with Fletcher Building up 5c to 760.

Pike River Coal lifted 4c early to 189, Sky City was up 3c to 380, and Ryman Healthcare was up 2c to 172.

Among stocks to fall early, NZ Farming Systems Uruguay eased 2c to 158, while Tower was also down 2c, to 208.

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In the United States stock index futures surged, pointing to a sharply higher open when Wall Street starts trading, after the US government seized control of troubled mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The takeover is the latest move by the government to shore up the slumping US housing market and was taken to ward off more global financial market turbulence.

On Friday (local time) US stocks reversed a steep selloff to end mostly higher, as fears about a jobs report gave way to bargain hunting in sectors including financials and consumer staples.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.29 per cent to settle at 11,220.96, although the blue chips had been down 150 points at one stage. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.44 per cent to 1242.31, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.14 per cent to 2255.88.

- NZPA