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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall most across Asia

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall most across Asia; Z still under pressure

By Paul McBeth

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell the most across Asia as Z Energy led the market lower for another day amid rising oil prices, growing competition and the threat of increased regulation.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 108.33 points, or 1.2 percent, to 8,802.26. Within the index 39 stocks fell, nine gained and two were unchanged. Turnover was $115.6 million.

The local market posted the biggest decline across Asia-Pacific.Australia's S&P/NZX 200 index was down 0.2 percent in afternoon trading, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent, and Japan's Topix was down 1.1 percent.

Z Energy led the local market lower, falling 3.9 percent to $6.10, the lowest close since February 2016. The share price has dropped 11 percent this week after the transport fuels company reported lower petrol volumes as oil prices rise. At the same time, it's facing increased competition from low-cost operators such as Waitomo and has the government threatening regulatory intervention.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said the share price is under pressure from the operational data showing lower fuel volumes and what impact a Commerce Commission study into the fuel market will have on margins. Those regulatory powers are yet to be passed into law.

"It's a little convergence of difficulties for Z," he said.

New Zealand Refining fell 3.2 percent to $2.43.

Ryman Healthcare fell 3.9 percent to $12 on lighter than usual volumes. Metlifecare was down 2.5 percent at $5.85 and Summerset Group declined 1.3 percent to $6.85.

Goodson said housing data for September showed a slow market in what's typically a busy month, and that may be weighing on the retirement village operators.

Spark New Zealand reported the busiest activity with 2.6 million shares traded, with the stock rising 0.5 percent to $3.90. Contact Energy fell 0.4 percent to $5.61 on volume of 2.5 million and Meridian Energy was down 0.8 percent to $3.11 on 2.2 million shares traded.

Auckland International Airport fell 1.3 percent to $6.92 on a volume of 1.9 million. Kiwi Property Group was down 0.4 percent at $1.35 on 1.8 million shares, and Air New Zealand fell 1.3 percent to $2.74 on one million shares.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand slipped 2 percent to $8.50, giving up some of yesterday's 14 percent gain. The fast-food operator has received an indicative takeover offer of $9.45 for three-quarters of the company. First NZ Capital raised its rating on the stock to 'neutral' and said the offer price was compelling.

Fletcher Building fell 2.1 percent to $6.10 and Sky Network Television rose 1.3 percent to $2.28. A2 Milk Co declined 1 percent to $10.31.

Ebos Group slipped 0.5 percent to $21.70 after saying it will pay A$50 million to buy out minority shareholders in Terry White Group.

Outside the benchmark index, Tilt Renewables slipped 0.9 percent to $2.28 after raising earnings guidance while cutting the value of its Australian assets. The company is under a takeover offer from Infratil for $2.30 a share. Infratil fell 0.7 percent to $3.435.

Pyne Gould Corp rose 6.1 percent to 35 cents. After the close of trading, Pyne Gould issued a notice of a special meeting to vote on a plan to leave the NZX for Guernsey listing. The meeting will be held in Queenstown on Oct. 31.

(BusinessDesk)

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