MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 at new record as Air NZ rival quits key route; F&P Healthcare rises
By Suze Metherell
March 20 (BusinessDesk) – The NZX 50 Index closed at a new record, after a late afternoon rally. Air New Zealand gained after rival Jetstar quit a key route to Singapore and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose as the kiwi dollar fell, lifting the value of US sales.
The NZX 50 rose 5.675 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5160.39. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 18 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $147.5 million.
Air New Zealand rose 1.6 percent to $1.895. Jetstar, the discount unit of Australian airline Qantas Airways, said it will drop its Auckland-Singapore route. Jetstar’s decision comes as Air New Zealand waits for regulatory approval for a code sharing deal with Singapore Airlines which will see New Zealand’s national carrier return to Singapore daily for the first time since 2006. Auckland International Airport dropped 0.5 percent to $3.88.
“It’s disappointing news, not just for the airport, but for the country as well,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. “Though on the other side of the coin, for Air New Zealand it’s less competition. So negative for one, positive for the other.”
F&P Healthcare, the breathing apparatus manufacturer, climbed 1.2 percent to $4.20 as the kiwi fell against both the US dollar and the euro. The American and European markets made up two-thirds of F&P Healthcare’s annual sales last year.
Stocks didn’t react much to government figures showing the New Zealand economy grew 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter, meeting forecasts, while comments from the US Federal Reserve, raising the prospect of sharper interest rate increases in the world’s biggest economy next year, weighed broadly on equity markets in the Asia Pacific region.
“Expectations are pretty high now in the local market - I think it is going to take a lot for economic data to actually surprise the market on the upside,” Williamson said. “We will expect the occasional hiccup in these markets as the Fed comes out with more detail on exactly what they’re going to do.”
A2 Corp, whose milk has a protein variant with supposed health benefits, led the index higher climbing 3.2 percent to 96 cents.
Telecom, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications provider, fell 1.2 percent to $2.39. Fletcher Building, the largest company on the NZX, dropped 1.5 percent to $9.59 and Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, rose 0.1 percent to $44.50.
Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International dropped 2.9 percent to $1.366. Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s biggest listed retailer, fell 1.8 percent to $3.20.
Outdoor goods chain Kathmandu Holdings gained 0.3 percent to $3.39. Trade Me Group, the online auction site, rose 2.6 percent to $3.93.
OceanaGold was the day’s worst performer dropping 3.3 percent to $2.90.
Government controlled energy company MightyRiverPower rose 0.5 percent to $2.11, while fellow partially privatised electricity provider Meridian Energy was unchanged at $1.11. Contact Energy gained 0.2 percent to $5.37.