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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall in year-end flurry; banks fall

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall in year-end flurry; FBU, banks drop

Dec. 31 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares fell, with stocks of Australian banks and Fletcher Building Ltd. ending the year lower. The benchmark NZX 50 Index rose 2% in 2010, recovering from a mid-year slump.

The NZX 50 Index fell 25.237, or 0.8%, to 3309.03. Within the index, 19 stocks fell, 12 rose and 19 were unchanged. Turnover was $70.8 million, of which $51 million was in the two dual-listed lenders.

Fletcher, the biggest company on the NZX 50, fell 0.4% to $7.66. Westpac Banking Corp. fell 2.9% to $29.50 and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group declined 0.7% to $31.

Xero Ltd., the online accounting software company, rose 2% to $3 and touched a record high $3.15 in intraday trading. In answer to a query from the bourse regulator about a 56% surge in the stock price this month, Xero said the outlook for its sector was upbeat.

Diligent Board Member Services, which sells IT support services for corporate boardrooms, rose 7.9% to 68 cents, the highest since Oct. 13.

The company was the best performer on the NZX in 2010, soaring more than 150%, and Milford Asset Management fund manager Alan Moore says it is a stock to watch in 2011 as it “really stands out as the leader in the market.”

Tower Ltd. was the biggest gainer on the index, rising about 2% to $2.09.


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