An 8% rise in Nuplex, after a profit upgrade announced when the market closed yesterday, could not prevent the New Zealand sharemarket tumbling in early trading.
This foillowed steep drops in US and European markets as President Barack Obama took a tough stance on financial institutions, proposing rules to make the system safer by preventing the biggest banks from taking excessive risks.
He said he was ready to fight the financial sector and its lobbyists for rules that would bar banks from owning, sponsoring or investing in hedge funds or private equity funds for their own profit, causing a bank share sell-off.
Europe's stock markets, closing just as the announcement was made, fell in concert with already weak US stocks after a surprise increase in US weekly jobless claims reduced optimism about economic recovery from the global financial crisis.
In this country, the benchmark NZX-50 index was down 16.54 points, or half a percent, to 3208.75 around 10.15am.
The index has fallen on eight of the past nine trading days, although the declines yesterday and Wednesday were only small. It is now more than 100 points below the 15-month closing high around 3310 of January 8.
Bucking the decline, Nuplex shares rose 24c to $3.29, after the industrial resins maker yesterday increased the guidance for its annual result for the second time in just over a month.
The wider picture was gloomy with Fletcher Building down 14c to $8.01, Hallenstein Glasson down 5c to $3.30, NZX down 5c to $2.23, Sky City down 4c to $3.31 and Pumpkin Patch down 3c to $2.02.
Stocks down 2c included Fisher & Paykel Healthcare to $3.33, Freightways to $3.35, NZ Oil & Gas to $1.61, Pike River Coal to $1.03, Ryman Healthcare to $2.08, Auckland Airport to $1.87, ING Medical Properties to $1.16, Property for Industry to $1.13 and Restaurant Brands to $1.75.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2% to close at 10,389.88, the S&P 500 Index lost 1.9% to 1116.47 and the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 1.1% to 2265.70.
Earlier, the pan European FTSEurofirst 300 fell 1.6%.