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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall on Egyptian unrest: FBU drops

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall on Egyptian unrest: Fletcher paces decliners, DNZ gains

By Jason Krupp

Jan. 31 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks fell as investors fled higher yielding, or riskier, assets amid fears Egypt's political turmoil will spread to other countries in the region. Fletcher Building Ltd. paced decliners on the exchange, while DNZ Property Fund Ltd. rose.

The NZX 50 Index fell 13.89 points, or 0.41%, to 3338.74. Within the index, 19 stocks fell, 18 rose, and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $83.1 million, despite many Auckland participants being out of action due to a regional holiday.

Egypt's anti-government protests, which mirrored similar political unrest in Tunisia, are now in their sixth day. The turmoil has stoked fears that oil prices could spiral upwards if they spread to major oil-producers such as Saudi Arabia, with the benchmark Brent Crude last trading at US$97.24 from US$94.75 early last week.

Fletcher fell 2% to $7.73, after New Zealand's biggest construction company sweetened its takeover offer for Australia's Crane Group, a bid the takeover target's board has recommending to shareholders.

The Auckland-based company is now offering A$10.07 per Crane share, made up of A$3.50 cash and one of its own shares for each Crane share, as well as a special dividend payment.

The decline "is a bit of a kneejerk reaction to the news that they will have to pay out some cash and issue new shares," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Goodman Fielder Ltd., the food ingredient manufacturer, fell 3% to $1.64. The company has been facing rising soft commodity prices, which are expected to put pressure on earnings.

Rakon Ltd., the maker of crystal oscillators used in cellphones and GPS units, fell 2.5% to $1.17. Fairfax Media reported that Vodafone have begun selling femtocells, which act as miniature cellphone towers to boost reception. It is sourcing the products from France’s Sagem, a rival producer to Rakon.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd., the energy exploration and production company, fell 1.2% to 85 cents.

The company's chief executive David Salisbury told investors the stock had oversold shares in the wake of the Pike River coal mine disaster, and the market had failed to factor in the effects of recent rise in oil prices on its earnings.

NZOG, which owns 29% of Pike River and has exposures to the mine totalling $150 million, issued its first quarterly update since the explosions at Pike River in November claimed 29 miners’ lives and saw the troubled mine delisted from the NZX and placed in receivership.

"Unfortunately investors have had confidence knocked a little with what happened to Pike River and NZO's exposure to that," said Williamson. "I don't think companies should be complaining about their share price, they should concentrate on the fundamentals of running their business and let supply and demand determine price.

Pyne Gould Corp., the financial services company, was unchanged at 36 cents after George Gould announced he will be resigning as a director as part of the conditions of taking over as managing director of PGG Wrightson.

Both companies are in transition. Pyne Gould has poured its Marac Finance unit into the new Building Society Holdings merger with Southern Cross and Canterbury building societies, which is to list on the NZX tomorrow. Pyne Gould is distributing most of its 72% stake to shareholders.

Wrightson is the subject of a $141 million partial takeover offer from 19% owner Agria Corp. and New Hope Group, one of China’s largest agricultural and food corporations. Wrightson Shares were unchanged at 54 cents.

DNZ, the property investor, rose 1.7% to $1.22. The stock was the second best performing property investor on the NZX 50 last year, despite having only been included into the index in October.

AMP NZ Office Ltd., the specialist investor in prime office space, rose 1.3% to 78 cents, Goodman Property Trust, the commercial property investor, rose 1.1% to 93 cents, and Vital Healthcare Property Trust, the investor in specialist medical clinics, rose 1% to $1.06.

New Zealand Refining Co. rose 1.3% to $4.69 after it a fire at the company's Marsden Point oil refinery was put out over the weekend without having caused significant damage.

(BusinessDesk)

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