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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by A2, Ebos, Fletcher

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by A2, Ebos, Fletcher on falling NZD

By Suze Metherell

Sept. 2 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, led by A2 Milk Co, Ebos Group and Fletcher Building, as companies with Australian business benefited from a falling kiwi dollar.

The NZX 50 Index rose 6.372 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5221.773. Within the index 17 stocks rose, 17 fell and 16 were unchanged. Turnover was about $97 million.

Since the start of July, the New Zealand dollar has shed some 5 cents against its Australian counterpart, falling from a year-high of nearly 95 Australian cents to recently trade at around 90 cents. The drop gives businesses with operations across the Tasman some relief, as a weaker currency adds value when they translate Australian earnings back into the local currency.

"The cross rate in the last number of weeks has been going down in New Zealand's favour," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Investors do keep a close eye on things like that. If that trend in the cross rate continues we will see investors look at those companies that have high exposure and any improvement in the Australian economy or drop off in the New Zealand dollar against the Australian will be good news for those types."

A2 Milk led the benchmark index higher, advancing 1.6 percent to 63 cents. The company, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, earns 96 percent of its income from Australia, where it says it now has a 9 percent stake in the market. In the year ended June 30, A2's sales rose 17 percent to $111 million and would have been some $14 million higher if not for the strength of the New Zealand dollar against its Australian counterpart, it said last month.

Ebos, the healthcare and animal care products distributor, rose 1.1 percent to $9.49. Its Australian operations generate 78 percent of annual sales. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company which has significant operations across the Tasman, increased 0.7 percent to $9.18.

Property trusts fell. Goodman Property Trust fell 1.3 percent, or 1.5 cents, to 1.11, after shedding rights to a 1.6 cents per share interim dividend. Precinct Properties Trust declined 1.3 percent, or 1.5 cents, to $1.115, as it shed rights to its 1.35 cents per share final dividend.

DNZ Property Fund fell 0.9 percent to $1.725. Argosy Property slipped 0.5 percent to $1.025 and Kiwi Income Property declined 0.4 percent to $1.205.

"The 'ex dividend' has brought property stocks off the boil," Williamson said. "But they had a pretty nice run over the last month or so as investors wanted certainty in income and lower volatility and they normally get that in a property trust."

MightyRiverPower rose 0.9 percent to $2.32. The Serious Fraud Office has charged a MRP engineer of fraudulently issuing invoices totalling $2 million. Williamson said it was unlikely fraud charges would impact the share price, as they were historic and not material to the company's overall income.

Spark New Zealand was unchanged at $3.02. The company previously known as Telecom Corp deregistered trading of its stock in the US and will continue its sponsored American Depository Receipt programme in the US over-the-counter market.

Lyttelton Port Co was unchanged at $4.11. Christchurch City Council's investment and infrastructure unit, which already owns about 79.6 percent of the port, has entered into a lock-up agreement with Port Otago for its 15.5 percent holding, and will offer $3.95 a share to mop up the remaining stock, amounts to a premium of up to 14 percent, according to a report from the independent adviser that recommends it be accepted.


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