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MARKET CLOSE: shares join global rally as trade fears ease

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares join global rally as trade fears ease; Chorus, Mainfreight rise

By Paul McBeth

March 6 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose as fears eased over US President Donald Trump's new tariffs on metals, renewing demand for equities across the world. Chorus and Mainfreight gained, while Metro Performance Glass fell, matching its record low.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 47.83 points, or 0.6 percent, to 8,327.66. Within the index, 32 stocks gained, 11 fell, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $126 million.

Stocks across Asia rose, following Wall Street's lead, after US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan urged Trump to rethink the planned tariffs on steel and aluminium. Meanwhile, Trump turned his attention to the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, tweeting any exemptions for Canada and Mexico would rely on a better deal for the US. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.2 percent in afternoon trading, while Japan's Topix was up 1.8 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng increased 1.3 percent.

"A bit of the nervousness around trade wars and the political moves out of Europe saw things simmer down overnight," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "We saw a bit of a rebound from that weakness late last week."

Chorus led the market higher, rising 2.8 percent to $3.88, extending its rally from a 15-month low set on March 1.

Mainfreight rose 2 percent to $24.44. The global logistics group has major operations in Europe, and Lister said it might be benefiting from optimism about that region's economy after German Chancellor Angela Merkel formed a new coalition government.

Synlait gained 1.4 percent to $7.50. The milk processor has gained 11 percent since announcing plans for a new plant to be built in Pokeno to meet the growing demand for infant formula.

"The market's taking it as a positive that they're diversifying from a2 (Milk Co) and forging ahead with a growth path of their own," Lister said. A2 slipped 0.6 percent to $12.75.

Freightways advanced 1.9 percent to $7.49, Ebos Group gained 1.9 percent to $18.40 and NZX increased 1.9 percent to $1.09.

Property stocks gained, despite recent increases in interest rates eating into their yield advantage. Precinct Properties New Zealand gained 1.2 percent to $1.285, Goodman Property Trust rose 0.8 percent to $1.35, Argosy Property increased 0.5 percent to $1.03 and Property For Industry advanced 0.6 percent to $1.65.

Among blue-chip stocks, Fletcher Building rose 1.5 percent to $6.61, Spark New Zealand gained 1 percent to $3.395, and Auckland International Airport increased 0.6 percent to $6.26.

Metro Performance Glass was the weakest stock on the benchmark index, falling 2.4 percent to 81 cents, matching the all-time low it set on Feb. 23. The glass products maker struggled to deal with capacity constraints in the building industry squeezing margins and is now trading at less than half the $1.70 initial public offering price the shares sold at in 2014.

Comvita fell 1.3 percent to $7.50, the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund declined 1.2 percent to $5.85, and Z Energy dropped 1.2 percent to $6.88.

Sky Network Television extended its decline, falling 0.4 percent to $2.28, a new low since its 2005 merger with Independent News. The pay-TV operator halved its interim dividend last month and has cut prices in an effort to slow customer losses.

Outside the benchmark index, NZME rose 1.3 percent to 78 cents after the media company said its merger agreement with Fairfax Media Group's Stuff division was terminated and would be renegotiated if an upcoming appeal is successful.

Rubicon climbed 18 percent to 26 cents after chief executive Luke Moriarty told shareholders at today's annual meeting earnings are on track to double from its ArborGen seedling unit.

Dual-listed Michael Hill International gained 3.5 percent to $1.20 on the NZX after the jewellery chain said it plans to close 24 Emma & Roe branded stores at a cost of up to A$7.9 million.

Port of Tauranga fell 0.4 percent to $5.06 and South Port New Zealand was unchanged at $6.10 ahead of a 13-day strike planned at rival Lyttelton Port Co in Christchurch by Rail and Maritime Union members.


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