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MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 extends gain, Xero hits new high

MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 extends gain, Xero hits new high on index addition

By Suze Metherell

March 6 (BusinessDesk) – The NZX 50 Index extended gains to a new record, led by Xero which reached a fresh high after being included on an Asia-Pacific index, and Air New Zealand which continued to rise on post-earnings optimism.

The benchmark index rose 41.701, or about 0.8 percent, to 5114.791. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 13 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $170.6 million.

“The whole New Zealand market is going nuts at the moment,” said Greg Easton investment advisor at Craigs Investment Partners. Investors were drawn to the potential of growth and good economic indicators in the New Zealand market, as opposed to more risky emerging market options, he said.

Xero climbed 4.4 percent to $44.49, with an intraday high of$45.99. The Wellington-based accounting software stock was included on a FTSE Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, mid-cap index.

Air New Zealand climbed 3.2 percent to $1.915, a six-year high. The national carrier lifted first-half earnings by controlling costs and said full-year profit would rise more than 17 percent.

Across the Tasman, government data showed stronger than expected growth in retail sales and trade. Among companies with exposure to the Australian economy, Fletcher Building rose 1.6 percent to $9.80, SkyCity Entertainment Group, operator of Darwin and Adelaide casinos, climbed 0.8 percent to $3.98 and A2 Corp gained 1.1 percent to 94 cents.

Auckland International Airport rose 0.5 percent to $3.87 and Telecom fell 1 percent to $2.465.

Warehouse Group was unchanged at $3.61 and is in a trading halt as New Zealand’s largest listed retailer seeks to raise $115 million to strengthen its capital base. It plans to sell $100 million of shares at $3.23 to institutional investors today, and will sell $15 million of shares to kiwi shareholders.

Fellow retailer Hallenstein Glasson was unchanged at $3.13 as was outdoor clothing chain Kathmandu Holdings at $3.40. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International was the day’s worst performer, falling 3 percent to $1.31.

Partially-privatised electricity company MightyRiverPower slipped 0.5 percent to $2.055, Meridian Energy gained 0.5 percent to $1.10 and Contact Energy rose 1.9 percent to $5.33. The Electricity Authority, the industry’s regulator, said it was “unacceptable” for energy retailers to blame other parts of the sector for price hikes and would be investigating the claims.

Lines company Vector rose 0.4 percent to $2.46.

Of the retirement village operators, Summerset Group Holdings rose 1.8 percent to $3.48, Metlifecare gained 1 percent to $4.16 and Ryman Healthcare rose 1.5 percent to $8.31.

Outside the benchmark index, retailer Briscoe Group was unchanged at $2.56. It posted a 10 percent gain in annual profits and said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead.

(BusinessDesk)

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