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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; investors await earnings

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; investors await August earnings season

By Paul McBeth

July 10 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, following stocks across Asia higher, as investors await next month's earnings season for clearer steer on where the market will head next. Xero led gainers.

The NZX 50 Index increased 5.27 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5128.013. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 20 fell, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $112.4 million.

The local market followed stocks across Asia higher as New Zealand investors take a cautious tone ahead of next month's earnings season, which will help them assess whether companies are trading at appropriate valuations.

"I don't expect the market moving too much either way until we get through reporting season," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Investors want to know if the sort of increases in share prices over the last six months are still warranted."

Growth-orientated stocks led the benchmark index higher, with accounting software developer Xero up 2.6 percent to $25.65 and biotech company Pacific Edge also gaining 2.6 percent to 79 cents.

Fletcher Building, the country's biggest listed company, rose 0.5 percent to $8.90, and Telecom Corp gained 0.6 percent to $2.69.

Hamilton Hindin Greene's Williamson said investors are still seeking shares that pay regular dividends, with property stocks performing well today.

Goodman Property Trust gained 0.9 percent to $1.085, Precinct Properties New Zealand rose 0.5 percent to $1.09, and Argosy Property gained 1 percent to 99 cents.

Units in Kiwi Income Property Trust fell 0.4 percent to $1.175 after the property investor said a seven-year $125 million bond issue had been oversubscribed.

Power company Meridian Energy was the biggest decliner on the benchmark index, down 2 percent to $1.235. Genesis Energy fell 0.8 percent to $1.80.

MightyRiverPower, the first of the three government-controlled power companies to be partially privatised, rose 0.2 percent to $2.265 after it announced the appointment of digital marketing expert Andy Lark to its board.

Retailers were mixed. The sector is under increased pressure to keep prices cheap as shoppers are lured by bargains from international online retailers, while unseasonably warm weather in both New Zealand and across the Tasman have further impacted winter apparel sales.

Kathmandu Holdings, the outdoor goods retailer, rose 0.6 percent to $3.19. Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest listed retailer, fell 1.6 percent to $3.09. Trade Me Group, the online auction site, was unchanged at $3.53.

Outside the benchmark index, Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International fell 0.8 percent to $1.32 and clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson Holdings rose 1 percent to $3.10.

"Conditions for all clothing retailers have been very difficult, particularly in Australia where the weather on the east coast has been warmer than normal and consumer confidence has taken a hit there with the economy being a little more difficult than it normally is in Australia," said Matthew Goodson, who manages $650 million of investment for Salt Funds Management.

Children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch slid 7.3 percent to a record low 38 cents. The company has been looking to revive its performance, announcing a strategic review including a close look at its IT infrastructure, in a bid to make its distribution and supply chain management more efficient, and the size of its store footprint in a store-by-store review.

"They're moving through significant strategic change," said Salt Funds' Goodson, which holds a 5.6 percent stake in the company. "It has weaknesses in that it certainly appears to have over-expanded its retail footprint in Australasia and their design of supply chain functions started to not be what they should be."

Energy Mad pared yesterday's decline, rising 11 percent to 21 cents. Earlier this week the energy efficient light bulb maker and marketer said it had lost tax-loss assets after a long-standing shareholder sold their stake.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand was unchanged at 68 cents after it said it will buy the remaining 30 percent stake in its Quantum joint venture for $14.25 million.


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