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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares drop on weak offshore leads

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares drop on weak offshore leads, Sky TV and NZ Refining fall on dividends

By Sophie Boot

March 14 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, on weak offshore leads and local stocks giving up dividend rights, with Sky Network Television, New Zealand Refining Co and Mercury New Zealand declining.

The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 40.51 points, or 0.5 percent, to 8,432.63. Within the index, 21 stocks fell, 21 were unchanged, and eight rose. Turnover was $154 million.

"There has been a bit of a negative lead from offshore, quite a big deal didn't go through with Broadcom and Qualcomm in the US," said Greg Easton, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. US President Donald Trump blocked a planned takeover of chipmaker Qualcomm by Singapore-based rival Broadcom on grounds of national security, with the deal slated to create the world's third-largest microchip maker if it went ahead.

"That put some spooks through the market and that has flowed through into the rest of the world a little bit," Easton said. At 5:15 pm New Zealand time, the ASX 200 was down 0.8 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng had fallen 1.3 percent and Japan's Nikkei 400 had dropped 0.7 percent.

Sky Network Television was the worst performer on the local index, down 5.8 percent, or 13 cents, to $2.11. It gave up rights to a 7.5 cent interim dividend.

"Certainly the bottom end of the market has been hit by [stocks giving up dividend rights], both Sky TV and NZ Refining went ex-div, although Sky has given up a bit more than the dividend," Easton said. "Obviously people have been holding on for the dividend for some reason, and now they're just giving up. It has been a long slide for them."

New Zealand Refining Co fell 4.5 percent, or 11 cents, to $2.35. It shed a 12 cent final dividend.

Other benchmark index stocks to give up dividends today were Mercury New Zealand, which dropped 4.5 cents to $3.225, compared to its 6 cents per share interim dividend; Investore Property, which dropped 3 cents to $1.38 while shedding a 1.86 cent dividend; Vital Healthcare, which dropped 1 cent to $2.12, compared to its 2.125 cent dividend; and Metlifecare, which shed 1 cent to $5.84 while dropping a 3.25 cent dividend.

Synlait Milk was the best performer, up 2.3 percent to $8.08. Heartland Bank rose 1.7 percent to $1.80 and Z Energy gained 1.2 percent to $6.95.

Outside the benchmark index, Trilogy International gained 2.2 percent to $2.83. It is set to de-list from NZX with shareholders backing a $211 million takeover from China's Citic Capital Partners at today's special meeting. The deal will see the Chinese investment firm pay $2.90 a share to take over the listed skincare products and scented candle maker.

"It's now just awaiting Overseas Investment Office approval, which the company has asked for by the end of March, so that could well be another company off our exchange in the very near future," Easton said.


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