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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall on global trade fears

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall on global trade fears, weighing on Synlait, F&P Health; Fletcher gains

By Sophie Boot

March 2 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell on global trade concerns after US President Donald Trump announced new trade barriers, with Synlait Milk giving up gains while Fletcher Building rebounded on debt waiver news.

The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 54.29 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,288.42. Within the index, 30 stocks dropped, 12 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $132 million.

Equity markets weakened overnight, led from the US where the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.7 percent after Trump stoked fears of a trade war when he said the US will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports next week. Asian stock markets followed suit with Japan's Nikkei 400 down 2.2 percent at 5:05pm NZ time, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng had declined 1.5 percent, and the S&P/ASX 200 had fallen 1 percent.

"Obviously we had some pretty major leads from the US overnight, so our market is doing fairly well in comparison," said Grant Davies, investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "All in all it is a reasonably subdued day."

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which derives about half its revenue in US dollars, fell 3.1 percent to $13.33. Steel products maker Steel & Tube fell 1.4 percent to $2.06.

Synlait Milk led the index lower, down 3.2 percent to $7.53, though the stock is still up 12 percent this week after jumping up 10 percent on Wednesday. Davies said Synlait, along with a2 Milk Co which today dipped 0.7 percent to $13, was giving a little bit back from its recent gains.

Sky Network Television continued to weaken following its result earlier in the week, down 2.4 percent to $2.40 for a weekly fall of 14 percent.

The best performer today was Fletcher Building, up 2.3 percent to $6.58. After trading closed yesterday, the company announced it has been granted a debt waiver by its US private placement noteholders, and is "now discussing with both its bank syndicate and USPP noteholders amendments to the terms of its funding arrangements."

The stock has plunged 32 percent in the past 12 months and 15 percent this year, driven by multiple downgrades, with the most recent fall coming last month after it unveiled wider construction losses in its Buildings + Interiors unit which caused it to breach its lending covenants.

"It's a little bit of a bounce, I'm sure long-suffering investors will be pleased to see that, though it is just until March 31," Davies said. "There's plenty of negotiating to be done in terms of getting bankers across the line."

Outside the benchmark index, Energy Mad's shares surged to 1.7 cents from the 0.2 cents they last traded at on Feb. 22. It plans to carry out a reverse listing with PaySauce, handing over outstanding debt to the new firm and giving shareholders a stake in a cloud-based, software-as-a-service payroll solution company.

The value of the shares in PaySauce is approximately $10 million and the market capitalisation of Energy Mad is about $310,000. As a result, Energy Mad shareholders will own 3 percent of the new entity and current PaySauce shareholders will hold 97 percent.


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