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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares edge up as NZX leads late recovery

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares edge up as NZX leads late recovery, Air NZ falls

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares edged up to a new record, led by stock market operator NZX and as investors changed their tune on a2 Milk Co late in the day. Air New Zealand fell on disappointing monthly metrics.

The S&P/NZX 50 index increased 3.77 points, or 0.05 percent, to 8,284.58. Within the index, 24 stocks gained, 19 fell, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $141 million.

"Our market has recovered late in the day - it's almost unchanged now but was down a reasonable amount," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch. "There's not a lot of guts to the market at the moment."

NZX led the benchmark index higher, rising 1.8 percent to $1.12. The stock market operator has been criticised this year for not developing a pipeline of new initial public offerings, with just one this year, and has developed a strategy to refocus on its core market business.

Williamson said a lot of investors are looking ahead to next year, and if the Vodafone New Zealand IPO goes ahead in the first quarter it will be a shot in the arm for the exchange.

A2 Milk rose 0.3 percent to $7.77, having traded as low as $7.48 during the day, which Williamson said helped the market's turnaround at the close.

Retirement village operator Arvida Group gained 1.6 percent to $1.24 and power company Contact Energy advanced 1.5 percent to $5.57. Real estate investors also gained, with Argosy Property rising 1.4 percent to $1.08, Kiwi Property Group up 1.1 percent to $1.385, and Property for Industry advancing 0.9 percent to $1.635.

Air New Zealand posted the biggest fall on the day, down 3.5 percent to $3.205 as investors took a dim view of the airline's latest operating stats. The figures showed passenger numbers rose in the month, largely due to domestic travel, while long-haul routes showed shrinking load factors, indicating declining capacity utilisation. Separately, Qantas Airways subsidiary Jetstar said it would restart its Wellington-to-Queenstown service next year.

"Investors obviously didn't think too much of the data that came out," Williamson said.

Xero, which leaves the NZX 50 at the end of the week ahead of delisting from the NZX, fell 1.3 percent to $29.40.

Ebos Group fell 1.2 percent after the animal and health products maker announced chief executive Patrick Davies is stepping down and will be replaced by chief financial officer John Cullity next March.

Heartland Bank slipped 1 percent to $2.05 after it resumed trading. The bank raised $59 million through a rights issue selling shares at $1.70 apiece, and yesterday's shortfall bookbuild set a price of $2.02.

Sanford fell 0.5 percent to $8.25 after shareholders were reminded about the seafood group's plans to keep investing in innovation and branding at today's annual meeting.

New Zealand Refining decreased 0.4 percent to $2.49 after the government said it will hold an independent inquiry into the pipeline between the Marsden Point refinery and Auckland. Z Energy, a customer of the refinery, fell 1.3 percent to $7.80.

Outside the benchmark index, Hallenstein Glasson Holdings climbed 5.5 percent to $3.62 after saying first-half profit could rise by as much as 50 percent, depending on Christmas trading.

ERoad slipped 3.3 percent to $3.19 after raising $15.5 million in a placement to investors, selling shares at $3.04 apiece.

Fletcher Building rose 1.4 percent to $7.50, Auckland International Airport gained 0.2 percent to $6.695, Spark New Zealand increased 0.3 percent to $3.68, Meridian Energy fell 1.2 percent to $2.935, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare decreased 0.4 percent to $13.54.


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