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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in heavy trading

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in heavy trading as Spark, Contact clear big orders

By Paul McBeth

March 14 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose in heavy trading with Spark New Zealand and Contact Energy attracting some big placements from large investors repositioning their portfolios. Sky Network Television extended its recovery on large volumes.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 47.81 points, or 0.5 percent, to 9,435.50. Within the index, 19 stocks gained, 26 fell, and five were unchanged. Turnover was $449 million, of which Spark accounted for $199.1 million and Contact $102.8 million.

Trading was unusually busy today with a number of large placements from international investors driving volumes. Upcoming index reweightings have underpinned increased activity this month, but Nikko Asset Management portfolio manager James Lindsay said that wasn't driving the big trades.

"There are some interesting things going on in the New Zealand market at the moment, with a number of very chunky placements from offshore, reasonably long-term shareholders in a number of names that have been exiting their positions and distributed around to others," Lindsay said.

Spark was the most traded stock with 55.4 million shares changing hands, including one trade of 47.5 million at $3.595 a share. That compares to its 90-day average volume of 4.9 million. The stock decreased 2.2 percent, or 8 cents, to $3.62 today, having shed rights to 12.5 cents of ordinary and special dividends.

Contact fell 1.1 percent to $6.40 on a volume of 16.3 million shares, compared to its usual 1.2 million. That included one trade of 15.2 million shares at $6.31 apiece.

Sky TV led the market higher, up 5.3 percent to $1.40 on a volume of 7.2 million, more than 10-times its three-month average. The pay-TV operator has been recovering from a record-low $1.25 on Monday, as investors remain wary about how well Sky TV will respond to a changing environment. The stock is rumoured to be removed from a Dow Jones index from tomorrow.

Z Energy was up 2.1 percent at $6.25 on a volume of 3.1 million shares, about three times its norm.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 2.1 percent to $14.98 on a slightly smaller than usual 602,000. The breathing mask maker today noted US fund manager BlackRock as a substantial shareholder with a 5 percent stake.

Fletcher Building rose 2 percent to $4.69 on a volume of 2.4 million, Trade Me Group slipped 0.2 percent to $6.39 on a volume of 2.9 million, Summerset Group was up 0.8 percent at $6.75 on a volume of 2.1 million and Mercury was unchanged at $3.685 on a volume of 1.5 million.

Air New Zealand fell 5 percent, or 12.5 cents, to $2.355 on a volume of 1.4 million, after shedding rights to an 11 cent dividend. SkyCity Entertainment Group rose 1.3 percent to $3.85 and Kiwi Property Group declined 1.4 percent to $1.41, both on volumes of more than 1 million.

Of other companies going ex-dividend, Stride Property Group fell 1.5 percent, or 3 cents, to $1.99, losing rights to a 2.48 cent dividend. Freightways was down 1 percent, or 8 cents, at $7.85 after shedding rights to a 15 cent dividend, and Metlifecare was down 0.8 percent, or 4 cents, at $4.88 after losing rights to a 3.75 cent dividend. Heartland Group Holdings was down 0.7 percent, or 1 cent, at $1.50 after shedding rights to a 3.5 cent dividend and Vital Healthcare Property Trust fell 0.7 percent, or 1.5 cents, after giving up rights to a 2.19 cent dividend.

Ebos Group rose 0.5 percent, or 11 cents, to $21.31, despite losing rights to a 34.5 cent dividend.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand decreased 1.1 percent to $8.90 with just 15,000 shares changing hands. Suitor Finaccess Capital had already declared its partial takeover unconditional. It has since crossed the 75 percent upper limit and acceptances of its $9.45 a share offer will be scaled.

(BusinessDesk)

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