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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as China, Crimea weigh

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as Chinese manufacturing, Crimea weigh on investors

By Suze Metherell

March 24 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares fall as ongoing geo-political tensions in Europe keep global investors nervous and as weak Chinese manufacturing figures stoke concern over the strength of the world’s second-biggest economy. Pacific Edge led the decline.

The NZX 50 Index fell 6.376 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5118.618. Within the index, 28 stocks fell, 20 rose and two were unchanged. Turnover was $126 million.

New Zealand was one of the few stock markets to decline across Asia as investors mulled the impact of a weak Chinese manufacturing indicator and the prospect of more uncertainty in the Ukraine after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula this month.

“The Australian market was down on the open, in part on the US’s soft close on Friday and generalised concerns over the broad economic direction - there are a few nerves about the Ukraine and some nervousness about the state of play in China,” said Angus Gluskie, who manages A$350 million in equities for White Funds Management in Sydney.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1 percent in afternoon trading, joining a regional rally as investors decided the weak Chinese manufacturing reading might spur policymakers to provide stimulus to the economy.

Pacific Edge, the non-invasive bladder cancer test developer, declined 5.8 percent to $1.46 to be the day’s worst performer on the NZX50 in its first day of trading on the benchmark index.

Companies with Australian interests paced the decline, with construction company Fletcher Building down 1.8 percent to $9.59, and casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group falling 2.5 percent to $3.88. A2 Corp, which counts Australia as its largest market for its milk, fell 2.1 percent to 92 cents. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International slipped 0.8 percent to $1.33.

Online auction website Trade Me Group fell 0.3 percent to $3.98. Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest listed retailer, climbed 0.9 percent to $3.23.

Auckland International Airport slipped 1.6 percent to $3.82 and Air New Zealand declined 0.3 percent to $1.885.

Kathmandu Holdings was the day’s best performer, up 8.4 percent to $3.62, after the outdoor goods retailer’s first-half earnings rose, even as it contended with an unfavourably strong New Zealand dollar against its trans-Tasman counterpart.

“A number of retailers in recent weeks have been coming out with disappointing results but their result lived right up to expectations,” said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. “Kathmandu is a good example of a company performing extremely well even against a negative in the currency or the exchange rate.”

Clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson, which left the benchmark index from today, climbed 7.1 percent to $3.00, ahead of an earnings announcement this week. Children’s clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch gained 3.6 percent to 58 cents.

Among other stocks to gain, Ebos Group rose 2.9 percent to $10.50, Xero increased 1.3 percent to $44, and Telecom advanced 1.3 percent to $2.405.

Ryman Healthcare rose 0.7 percent to $8.26. The retirement village operator dropped 5.9 percent last Friday as $71 million of its stock changed hands as managers reweighted their portfolios.

“We’ve seen one or two bargain hunters coming in on those stocks that were sold off on that reweighting on Friday,” Williamson said.


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