MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as Trump's trade talk spooks investors; exporters fall
By Paul McBeth
May 6 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares joined a slump across Asia as US President Donald Trump's tough stance on trade spooked investors. Exporters including A2 Milk and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare were among those sold off.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 97.46 points, or 1 percent, to 9,960.62. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 16 rose, and four were unchanged. Turnover was $115.9 million.
Stocks across Asia were fell after Trump stepped up pressure on China, saying in a tweet that he will hike tariffs on some Chinese goods at the end of the week as trade negotiations are tracking too slowly. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 5.2 percent in afternoon trading, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 3.3 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.8 percent.
"The market had a strong lead going into today's trading with excellent jobs numbers out of the United States," said Peter McIntyre, an investment advisor at Craigs Investment Partners. "That all changed within two or three sentences and we're following Asia lower."
Exporters were among the hardest hit, with A2 Milk Co down 2.9 percent at $15.93 on a smaller volume than usual of 564,000 shares. F&P Healthcare fell 2.6 percent to $15.34 on a volume of 364,000, while Air New Zealand declined 1.8 percent to $2.75. Pushpay Holdings, which reports on Wednesday, decreased 0.8 percent to $3.78.
"Those exporters have been struggling a wee bit," McIntyre said.
Heartland Group led the market lower, down 3.1 percent at $1.55 on a volume of 213,000 shares, almost half its 90-day average. McIntyre said the lender was weighed on by other financial services stocks, with Westpac Banking Corp reporting a slump in first-half group profit. Dual-listed Westpac was down 1.8 percent at $28.56 on a typically small volume of 13,000 shares.
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, which reported earnings last week, increased 0.5 percent to $29.20.
Vista Group International was the most traded stock on a volume of 2.6 million shares. It was unchanged at $5.15. Z Energy fell 0.2 percent to $6.18 on a volume of 2.2 million, following on from unusually busy activity on Friday.
Spark New Zealand fell 0.8 percent to $3.64 on a volume of 2.2 million shares, less than half its 5.7 million three-monthly average. Recent NZX50 addition Oceania Healthcare decreased 0.9 percent to $1.07 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, almost twice its 788,000 average.
Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Contact Energy rose 1 percent to $6.86 and Auckland International Airport increased 0.3 percent to $8.02.
Port of Tauranga posted the biggest gain, up 1.4 percent at $5.98, followed by Skellerup Holdings, up 1.3 percent at $2.29.
Outside the benchmark index, Comvita sank 15 percent to $3.58 after saying it expects to post an annual loss of $6 million due to another poor honey harvest.
Briscoe Group fell 0.6 percent to $3.28 after warning rising costs and higher wages had more than offset its first-quarter sales growth. The retailer also said accounting changes would weigh on its bottom-line this year.