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Stocks to watch: ABA, AIR, NZO, SKY, SPY, TWR

Stocks to watch: ABA, AIR, NZO, SKY, SPY, TWR

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) – The following stocks may be active on the New Zealand exchange after developments since the close of trading. All prices are in New Zealand dollars unless specified.

Themes of the day: Third-quarter balance of payments data is out today, which will likely show the deficit widened to 3.4% of gross domestic product. The dollar fell ahead of the announcement, but also weighted down by risk adverse currency investors who fled the euro in favour of safe haven currencies such as the greenback and the yen. The kiwi was last trading at 74.16 U.S. cents, down from 74.73 cents yesterday. Global equities rallied ahead of the Christmas holiday, as better-than-expected earnings forecasts from graphics software developer Adobe Systems Inc. and electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc. helped support buying. In late afternoon trade the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5% to 1,253.15, while in Europe the Stoxx 600 rose 1% to 281.1. Oil prices rose to their highest level since October 2008, with Brent Crude last trading at US$93.98 a barrel.

Abano Healthcare Group (ABA): The specialist health clinic investor reported a drop in first-half profit, reflecting the absence of revenue from the Bay Audiology business sold last year. Underlying profit fell to $2.8 million in the six months ended Nov. 30, from $3.4 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Sales declined to $86.7 million from $102.3 million. The shares fell 0.4% yesterday to $4.85.

Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR): Transport Minister Steven Joyce yesterday okayed the trans-Tasman alliance between the national carrier and Virgin Blue. The decision follows approval being granted by Australia’s antitrust regulator this month, reversing its preliminary view, after the two airlines gave guarantees on growth in capacity. The shares were unchanged yesterday at$1.49.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd. (NZO): Oil prices rose to their highest level in over two year as optimism for the global economy next year continues to grow. Shares in the energy exploration and production company fell 2.3% yesterday to 82 cents.

Sky Network Television Ltd. (SKY): European regulators have given Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. approval to buy British pay-TV operator BSkyB, which in turn owns a major stake in Sky Network. Shares rose 0.4% yesterday to $5.27.

SmartPay Ltd. (SPY): The EFTPOS services company said it raised $2.3 million through a series of discounted private placements, and has secured a $2 million funding line. The company boosted the number of shares on issue by about a tenth, selling some 113.8 million shares off-market at 2 cents apiece. At the same time, SmartPay secured a new funding line at a cheaper, 10% per annum rate, which it’s drawn down by $1 million. The shares rose 3.9% yesterday to 2.7 cents.

Tower Ltd. (TWR): ACC Minister Nick Smith plans to end Accident Compensation Corp.’s monopoly on workplace insurance coverage, and open it up to private providers in a move that could prove to be a $200 million windfall for insurers. Changes won’t be implemented until after next year’s election, though the Cabinet wants to hear back from officials by the end of June. Shares in Tower, the general insurer, rose 1% yesterday to $1.95.

(BusinessDesk)

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