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MARKET CLOSE: NZ tech stocks join global sell off

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, tech stocks join global sell off; Xero, Diligent slip

By Suze Metherell

March 31 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand stocks fell as the end of financial year saw investors square their books and take profit from tech and growth stocks. Diligent Board Member Services, Xero, Pacific Edge and A2 Corp paced the decline.

The NZX 50 Index fell 2.914 points, or about 0.1 percent, to 5139.982. Within the index, 16 stocks fell, 22 rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $137.5 million.

US tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite sank 2 percent last week as social-media company Facebook lost 11 percent after its purchase of a virtual reality business while Google, the world’s largest search engine, declined ahead of issuing 330 million non-voting C Class shares this week.

Governance app company Diligent led the index lower, dropping 3.5 percent to $4.15. Xero, the cloud-based accounting software company, fell 1.6 percent to near a two-month low of $39.35. Pacific Edge, maker of a non-invasive bladder cancer detection test, declined 2.9 percent to $1.35 and A2 slipped 1.1 percent to 91 cents.

“The market is a little weak and overall that weakness is being led by the tech stocks,” said James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital. “What you have seen is global tech companies have been under a bit of pressure recently. As a sector they’ve all done very, very well, and now it is a bit of profit taking.”

Tech stocks outside the benchmark index also fell. Security software firm Wynyard Group slipped 1.4 percent to $2.93. GeoOp, whose software allows small businesses to manage their workforce, declined 4 percent to $1.90.

“It is important to note it’s our financial year end today in New Zealand,” said Lee. “People will want to tidy stuff up so you get some random movements on that last day of the year, as people want to balance the cash that they need for their clients.”

Auckland International Airport fell 1.6 percent to $3.81. The nation’s busiest gateway detailed its 30 year, $2.5 billion plan over the weekend, which includes building a second runway and merging the domestic and international terminals.

“It’s a very bold statement to make, but it’s beyond most people’s investment time horizon to be honest,” Lee said.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, fell 1.1 percent to $9.52. Government data showed residential building consents fell 1.7 percent, the second monthly decline, led by apartments.

Power stocks were mixed ahead of the government’s listing of 49 percent of Genesis Energy on April 17. Meridian Energy fell 0.9 percent to $1.16, Contact Energy declined 0.2 percent to $5.32. MightyRiverPower was unchanged at $2.1, as was Auckland lines company Vector at $2.43.

Telecom fell 0.2 percent to $2.44. Sky Network Television slipped 0.8 percent to $6.25. Port of Tauranga was unchanged at $14.20.

Outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu Holdings was the best performer on the NZX 50, rising 4.1 percent to $3.85. Air New Zealand climbed to pre-global financial crisis highs, up 2.3 percent to $2.045. Steel & Tube advanced 3.4 percent to $3.05.

Outside the NZX 50, Wellington Drive climbed 23.1 percent to 16 cents. The Auckland-based energy efficient motor maker signed a channel partnership for the North-American market with US-based East West Manufacturing.

(BusinessDesk)

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