Investors gave up half-hearted attempts to push the New Zealand bourse higher, with the sharemarket slipping into the red in morning trade as profits were booked on Xero.
The NZX 50 Index fell 0.5 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 4048.51 in the first two hours of trade. Almost 22 million shares changed hands, representing a higher than usual $79.9 million in turnover.
The tone on the market was subdued thanks to softer leads from Wall Street, with the protracted fiscal cliff talks in Washington weighing on sentiment.
Xero, the cloud accounting platform provider, fell 5.2 per cent to $7.30, giving back some of the ground gained after it announced it had raised $60m to fund its international expansion.
Mainfreight, the global trucking and logistics company, fell 1.8 per cent to $10.90 on the back of 2000 shares traded.
Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing retailer, fell 1.6 per cent to $1.25.
Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredient maker, fell 1.2 per cent to 86c with 1.5 million shares traded so far.
PGG Wrightson, the rural services provider, rose 2.7 per cent to 38c, leading gainers on the exchange at midday with the stock still gaining ground after the Crafar Farm receivers yesterday repaid a $25m loan.
Chorus, the telephone network utility, rose 1 per cent to $2.94. The stock recovered some of the 14 per cent in value it lost yesterday when the competition watchdog proposed slashing the price is can charge telcos to use its network to provide broadband connections.
The deal is far from a fait accompli, with the Government saying it may intervene on the proposed price changes.
Telecom, the phone company, fell 0.4 per cent to $2.31.
Guinness Peat Group, the investment holding company in the throes of winding itself down, rose 0.8 per cent to 61c on 4.8 million shares traded - marking its highest level in almost a year.
NZX, the security markets operator which recently launched Fonterra's Trading Among Farmers scheme, rose 0.8 per cent to $1.23.