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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain in increasingly volatile market; Chorus gains

By Paul McBeth

May 16 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose for a second day in an increasingly volatile market. Equities rose across Asia and Chorus led the local market higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 45.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,176.99. Within the index, 21 stock rose, 17 fell, and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $109 million.

Stocks across Asia were largely stronger, with China's Shanghai Composite up 0.2 percent in afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rising 0.2 percent and Singapore's Straits Times index up 0.1 percent.

"There seems to be a positive vibe across the market - I still think there will be more volatility to come on the trade from offshore," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.

The local market is being buoyed by several tailwinds including low interest rates making stocks with reliable dividends more attractive and a glut of funds needing reinvestment, such as the proceeds from the $2.56 billion Trade Me takeover and ASB Bank's buyback of $550 million of perpetual preference shares.

Lister said investors still need somewhere to put their funds, and have shied away from residential property given the slowdown in Auckland and can't get a very good rate on term deposit. ANZ, the country's biggest bank, offers 3.25 percent on a 12-month term deposit, according to data. That's $325 on a $10,000 deposit.

Vector today set the interest rate on $250 million of six-year bonds at 3.45 percent. Vector shares rose 0.8 percent to $3.86.

Telecommunications network operator Chorus, which trades at a dividend yield of 3.69 percent, led the market higher, up 3.1 percent at $6.29 on a volume of 267,000 shares, about half its 90-day average of 528,000.

Tourism Holdings rose 3.1 percent to $4.36 on a volume of 162,000 shares, more than its 127,000 average. A government report today forecast a 4 percent annual increase in international visitors out to 2025, and an expectation for a higher spend per visitor.

Ryman Healthcare, which reports earnings next week, rose 2.5 percent to $11.75 on a volume of 629,000 shares, up from its usual volume of 410,000.

Infratil was unchanged at $4.45 on a volume of 1.6 million shares, ahead of tomorrow's annual result. Investors will be more focused on Infratil's plans to raise $400 million as part of its proposed $1 billion investment in Vodafone New Zealand.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.6 million, well short of its 5.8 million average. The telco fell 0.5 percent to $3.74 after a draft Commerce Commission report found the mobile market was functioning reasonably well and didn't need regulation.

Kiwi Property Group was unchanged at $1.53 on a volume of 3.5 million shares, more than twice its 1.3 million average.

Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Goodman Property Trust rose 0.6 percent to $1.80 and Meridian Energy was unchanged at $4.28.

Dual-listed lender Westpac Banking Corp shed rights to its 94 cent dividend today, and fell 4.4 percent, or $1.26, to $27.16 on the NZX. Z Energy also gave up rights to a 30.5 cent dividend, and was down 4 percent, or 25 cents, at $6.

Synlait Milk fell 0.6 percent to $10.14 after saying the registration process needed to launch Munchkin infant formula in the US has been put on hold to gauge other options. A2 Milk, which sources product from Synlait and is a shareholder of the milk processor, fell 0.2 percent to $16.27.

Across the Tasman, ASX-listed Xero, was up 10 percent at A$59.99 in late trading, having climbed as high as A$60.93, after reporting positive cash flow in its annual earnings. The Wellington-headquartered accounting software developer quit its NZX listing in January last year - the stock last trading at NZ$34.

Lister said chief executive Steve Vamos's handover from founder Rod Drury was a successful example of that transition, as was Vista International Group. Vista fell 1.1 percent to $5.47. He noted Pushpay Holdings is going through a similar executive change. Pushpay rose 1 percent to $4.

ASB Bank's subordinated notes paying annual interest of 6.65 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 2.3 million notes. They closed at a yield of 2.3 percent, up 1 basis point. ASB will redeem the $400 million of listed debt on June 17.

ANZ Bank New Zealand's 2024 bonds paying annual interest of 3.03 percent traded at a yield of 2.53 percent, down 6 basis points, on a volume of 1 million notes.


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