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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares touch new record as Air NZ flies

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares touch new record as Air NZ flies to 16-year high; Spark, Ryman weigh

By Paul McBeth

June 20 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares touched a new record as Air New Zealand rose to a 16-year high, but finished the day flat as weaker blue chip stocks including Ryman Healthcare, Spark New Zealand and Auckland International Airport weighed on the bourse.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dipped 5.5 points, or 0.07 percent, to 7586.53, having touched a new intraday record 7613.19. Within the index, 20 stocks rose, 21 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $128 million.

Blue chip stocks Ryman Healthcare fell 1.4 percent to $8.35, Spark dropped 1.3 percent to $3.765 and Auckland Airport declined 1.3 percent to $6.95, while dual-listed lenders Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp decreased 0.8 percent to $29.37 and 1 percent to $31.89 respectively after Moody's Investors Service downgraded its ratings for the big four Australian banks.

"Our market is just hovering along with very little news," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch. "We're still in a bit of a range, having seen that for the last month or so, although we are pretty near the top of the range."

CBL Corp, the newest addition to the benchmark index, led the market lower falling 1.5 percent to $3.28, while power company Trustpower declined 1.5 percent to $5.42, courier and information management firm Freightways was down 1.2 percent to $7.68 and transport fuels group Z Energy declined 1 percent to $7.65.

Stocks across Asia were mixed after Wall Street was buoyed by a recovery in tech stocks. Local tech companies Xero and Vista Group International were the biggest gainers on the NZX 50, up 3.6 percent to $26 and 2.4 percent to $6 respectively.

Air New Zealand rose 1.9 percent to $3.25, its highest level since early September 2001, and extending the 45 percent rally so far this year. The national carrier today reported another increase in monthly passenger numbers in its May operating metrics.

"Oil prices are still slipping on the international stage at the moment and that's good news for the airlines," Williamson said. "Their passenger numbers are pretty impressive as well."

A2 Milk Co rose 0.3 percent to $4.08, a new record close, having benefited from a second upgrade to sales guidance last week. Williamson said the stock is trading on good volumes, especially when the ASX opens, with strong Australian demand for the shares. About $11.1 million of a2 shares were traded on the NZX today.

Fletcher Building rose 1.3 percent to $7.97 and Ebos Group gained 1.3 percent to $17.90.

Most power companies gained after state-owned enterprise Transpower was proposing a new operational review of the way it charges access to the national grid after the sector's regulator announced more delays its own methodology in setting that price. Contact Energy rose 0.6 percent to $5.16, Genesis Energy was unchanged at $2.395, Mercury NZ increased 0.6 percent to $3.32 and Meridian energy advanced 0.7 percent to $2.98.

Port of Tauranga gained 0.7 percent to $4.52 after marking its millionth container handled in a year. At the event, the port's chairman David Pilkington said local government port owners weren't managing their facilities to generate bigger returns than their cost of capital. Marsden Maritime Holdings, which owns a half share of the Northport operating company, was unchanged at $4.21 and South Port New Zealand was unchanged at $5.66.

Outdoor equipment chain Kathmandu Holdings gained 0.5 percent to $1.96 and Warehouse Group increased 1.5 percent to $2.05 after data today showed consumer confidence remained robust and households were still upbeat about making big-ticket purchases.

Outside the benchmark index, Scott Technology rose 1.8 percent to $2.85 after the industrial automation manufacturer bought the assets of Dunedin engineer DC Ross out of receivership for less than $500,000, and said it expects to double the floorspace in a planned expansion of its existing Dunedin site.


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