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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise with Asia's rally

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise with Asia's rally; Sky TV, F&P Healthcare, Fletcher gain

By Jonathan Underhill

April 9 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose as the local bourse joined a region-wide rally on optimism the US and China will manage to avoid a trade war that could slow global growth. Sky Network Television, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Spark NZ led broad-based gains. Orion Health jumped 11 percent.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 60.86 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,454.1. Within the index, 29 stocks rose, 10 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $100.8 million.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.3 percent on Friday in the US but US stock futures have gained in Asia and among regional benchmarks, Japan's Topix was up 0.6 percent, the Straits Times Index rose 0.4 percent and across the Tasman the S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent in afternoon trading.

The gains in New Zealand stocks today "are pretty consistent with elsewhere in Asia," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets in Auckland. "Last week was one of the more volatile weeks. Global markets have been on a knife edge, or a tweet-edge," he said. While some were predicting a dire outcome for the global economy, "the only outcome is a negotiated win." Traders were now awaiting a speech by China's president Xi Jinping on Tuesday for any signals about the trade spat, he said.

Sky TV led the index higher, gaining 4.3 percent to $2.45. The stock has tumbled on concern about the inroads streaming rivals are making on the company's pay-TV market share and more recent news that it isn't the preferred bidder for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and that long-serving chief executive John Fellett is retiring.

"There's not going to be a magic wand" for Sky TV, Smith said. "They're not going to get rid of their problems overnight - the disruption from Netflix and others."

Fletcher Building rose 2.1 percent to $5.97, having dropped about 26 percent in the past 12 months on losses from its Building + Interiors unit. Spark rose 1.6 percent to $3.395.

Trade Me Group, the auction website, rose 1.6 percent to $4.44. Argosy Property rose 1 percent to $1.01 and Kathmandu gained 1.2 percent to $2.57.

Pushpay Holdings was the biggest decliner on the NZX 50, falling 2.1 percent to $4.17. Heartland Bank fell 1.7 percent to $1.70 and Synlait Milk fell 1.6 percent to $8.82.

Outside the benchmark index, Orion Health rose 11 percent to 80 cents, adding to a 20 percent surge on Friday on speculation it is negotiating a trade sale after the health software developer said it was pursuing "potentially significant transactions".


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