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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares join global retreat as oil declines

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares join global retreat as oil declines; dual-listed Fletcher, Air NZ drop

By Paul McBeth

June 21 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares joined a global retreat as weaker oil prices weighed on energy stocks and a downgrade of Australia's major banks saw dual-listed companies including Fletcher Building fall, while Air New Zealand declined in heavy trading.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 59.42 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,527.11, having touched a record high yesterday. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 11 rose, and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was $180 million, of which $60 million was in Air New Zealand shares

Stocks across Asia declined, following Wall Street's lead, after oil prices fell to a seven-month low as efforts to curb global production struggle to gain traction. That weighed on Australian energy stocks such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which dropped 3.9 percent and 2.8 percent respectively in afternoon trading, while Moody's Investors Service downgrade of the four major Australian banks this week has investors nervous about the financial sector. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.4 percent in afternoon trading.

Dual-listed shares led the market lower, with Fletcher Building falling 2.8 percent to $7.77, Chorus declining 2.3 percent to $4.62, and Xero down 2.3 percent to $25.30. Westpac Banking Corp dropped 2.2 percent to $31.19 and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 2 percent to $28.79.

"We've got a flow on impact from weaker oil - BHP and that are all down in Australia - that's created a level of unsettledness right through the markets," said Rickey Ward, NZ equities manager at JBWere in Auckland. "It has that real feeling that it is international flows exiting New Zealand a little bit because it is in those leaders."

Transport fuels company Z Energy fell 1.3 percent to $7.55 and energy explorer New Zealand Oil & Gas dropped 1.4 percent to 64 cents. Refinery operator New Zealand Refining was unchanged at $2.41.

Air New Zealand fell 2.5 percent to $3.17 with 19.1 million shares changing hands, the biggest volume since the government sold down its stake in late 2013. The airline's shares have jumped 48 percent so far this year as the carrier upgraded earnings as New Zealand continues to experience strong tourism numbers.

"It had been punished a bit on expectations earnings would be down this year in the face of higher oil prices and increased competition but things have turned their way," Ward said. "It's always been a pretty well-run company despite the fact that it's an airline and there's been a re-rating with a big line of stock through today."

Tourism Holdings posted the biggest gain on the day, up 3.2 percent to $3.95 after the campervan rental group raised earnings guidance on the strength of its New Zealand and US businesses.

Among other blue chip stocks, Spark New Zealand fell 0.7 percent to $3.74, Auckland International Airport rose 0.6 percent to $6.99, and Ryman Healthcare slipped 0.5 percent to $8.31. Power companies Meridian Energy increased 0.2 percent to $2.985 and Contact Energy gained 0.2 percent to $5.17.

Units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund, which gives investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group's earnings, increased 0.2 percent to $5.94. Dairy prices, which are an input cost for the milk processor, fell at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction. Milk marketer a2 Milk Co fell 0.7 percent to $4.05, while Synlait Milk dropped 2 percent to $4.02.

Outside the benchmark index, Smith City Group rose 1.5 percent to 68 cents after reporting a 54 percent boost in underlying annual earnings, largely from widening margins in its finance division.

(BusinessDesk)

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