NZX falls in morning trade

The New Zealand sharemarket fell 1 per cent in morning trading today, continuing Friday's downward movements for global stock markets.

The benchmark NZX 50 Index was down 52.98 points to points to 4820.722 points shortly after 11am.

In the first session of trading 31 companies declined, two gained and 17 remained unchanged.

Forsyth Barr broker David Price said the local bourse was marked down following on from what had happened overseas.

A sell-off in equities started on Thursday evening last week after investors pulled money out of risk assets and emerging markets.

The downturn in emerging markets, risk currencies, and global equities was sparked by weaker than expected Chinese manufacturing data.

China's manufacturing contracted in January, according to the HSBC Markit Chinese Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index.

Uncertainty surrounding the global economic situation continued the decline in equities.

The New Zealand stock market followed global markets down on Friday and continued lower this morning on ''pitiful'' trading volumes due to Auckland Anniversary Day, Price said.

Australia Day, Auckland Anniversary Day and the upcoming Chinese New Year meant volumes were down and share price movements were exaggerated and not of significance, he said.

Tomorrow could provide a better gauge of the market's response to international events, he said.

A correction of the high volumes and strong share price gains seen so far this year was not unexpected.

''We've seen quite a sharp start to the year up until Thursday.''

Accounting software company Xero suffered the biggest decline in its share price this morning, down 4.1 per cent to trade at $40.10.

Diligent Board member Services and retirement village operator Summerset Group were both down 2.8 per cent to trade at $4.52 and $3.43 respectively.

At the other end, new bank Heartland, infrastructure company Infratil, Fonterra Shareholders' Fund and Telecom posted modest gains.