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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up, Spark and Westpac gain, Z falls

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up, Spark and Westpac gain while Z Energy falls on petrol study

By Sophie Boot

July 4 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, led by Spark New Zealand and Westpac Banking Corp as blue-chip stocks joined in a rally across the Tasman, while Z Energy declined amidst uncertainty about increased regulation in the petrol sector.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 0.4 percent, or 32.21 points, to 7,620.64. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $127.4 million.

New Zealand's blue-chip and dual-listed stocks got a boost from a strong performance in Australia with the S&P/ASX200 index up 1.7 percent at 5pm local time.

Spark New Zealand led the index, up 3.6 percent to $3.915, while Air New Zealand gained 2.4 percent to $3.38 and Metro Performance Glass rose 2.2 percent to $1.40. Fletcher Building gained 1.3 percent to $8.06 and Chorus rose 2.1 percent to $4.68.

Forsyth Barr broker Suzanne Kinnaird said Australian banking stocks were doing particularly well and helped push dual-listed bank stocks in New Zealand higher. Westpac rose 2.8 percent to $32.88, while Australia & New Zealand Banking Group gained 2.6 percent to $30.95.

Z Energy was the worst performer, down 2.2 percent to $7.72. A government-commissioned study released today has found New Zealand's fuel market "may not be consistent with a workably competitive market", with retail margins increasing over the past five years while more expensive petrol in the South Island and Wellington isn't explained by higher costs in those areas.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said she plans to ask the commerce minister whether the Commerce Commission should undertake a further study once it is legally empowered to do so, and that she has instructed her officials to assess the recommendations and report back to her by November.

"Z's been quite volatile today as a result of that, they got down to $7.60 so they have bounced but overall are still down," Kinnaird said. "It's really too early to tell what the impact is going to be on Z, but the market doesn't like uncertainty so until such time as we see more firm detail, which will be some time off, that will weigh over their price."

The study's main recommendation was for the government to look further into the issue, including contracts for independent firms to access terminals around the country and the reasonableness of prices. It also recommended potential changes including a registry which would prevent major companies from seeing their competitors' market shares and the possible creation of a liquid wholesale market.

New Zealand Refining, which operates the oil refinery at Marsden Point, was unchanged at $2.45.

CBL Corp dropped 1.5 percent to $3.30, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp fell 1.3 percent to $11.08, and Summerset Group Holdings declined 1.1 percent to $4.70.

(BusinessDesk)

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