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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; trading quiet

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; trading quiet ahead of upcoming earnings

By Paul McBeth

May 17 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose in quiet trading, as investors prepare for a flurry of earnings next week. Infratil entered a trading halt for the first tranche of a $400 million capital raising.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 3.81 points, or 0.04 percent, to 10,180.80. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 14 fell, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $98.9 million, with just four stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares.

The March and September balance date earnings season picks up speed next week, with a dozen or so companies scheduled to report. New Zealand's low interest rate environment continues to provide a tailwind for investors, as does a glut of bond redemptions and maturities that need to be reinvested.

Australia's federal election over the weekend has also given investors reason to sit on the sidelines and wait to see whether the Liberal-National coalition is returned or if the Australian Labor Party takes the treasury benches.

Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners, said a lot of local investors were distracted by Xero's strong result yesterday, with the ASX-listed software company still widely held, and that the local market was reasonably quiet today. Xero was up 2.2 percent in late trading on the ASX at A$61.50, adding to yesterday's 11 percent gain.

"Next week is going to be interesting, especially with what happens in the Australian election," he said. "The focus will go onto the currency and what our cross-rate does."

Infratil shares were halted at $4.45 today for a $100 million placement to institutional investors at $4 a share. The company is then going to raise $300 million in a 1-for-7.46 rights issue to help fund its share of the $3.4 billion acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand. The new shares will also be entitled to the 11-cent final dividend declared as part of today's annual result.

McIntyre said the result had been well signalled and all attention was on the capital raising.

NZX led the market higher, up 1.9 percent at $1.09 on a volume of 417,000 shares, more than its 90-day average of 269,000. Sky Network Television rose 1.7 percent to $1.23 and Vector advanced 1.6 percent to $3.76.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 4.2 million shares, less than its usual volume of 5.8 million. It increased by 0.4 percent to $3.755.

Kiwi Property Group, which reports on Monday, rose 0.3 percent to $1.535 on a volume of 1.4 million shares, while Goodman Property Trust, which reported this week, rose 0.3 percent to $1.805 on a million units.

Auckland International Airport hit a record $8.625, ending the day at $8.57 on a volume of 1.1 million shares. The airport operator reported flat passenger numbers in March.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand posted the biggest decline on the day, down 3.6 percent at $8.87 on a volume of 63,000 shares, less than half its 90-day average of 170,000. The fast-food operator's unionised workers will be striking this weekend.

Dual-listed Australia & New Zealand Banking Group dropped 3.1 percent to $27.25. The Australian bank's local arm was today censured by the Reserve Bank and lost its accreditation to use an internal risk model to work out capital requirements.

Westpac Banking Corp was down 1.3 percent at $26.80, while much smaller rival Heartland Group Holdings increased 0.6 percent to $1.58.

SeaDragon was unchanged at 0.2 cents on a volume of 5.2 million shares after shareholders approved a series of resolutions to raise $4 million via a convertible note from director Mark Stewart's Pescado unit. The funding line staved off the threat of liquidation for the time being.

PGG Wrightson was unchanged at 52 cents on a volume of 1.2 million shares, more than five times its 90-day average of 262,000.

Fonterra Cooperative Group's 2025 bonds paying annual interest of 4.15 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 1.8 million. The notes closed at a yield of 3.18 percent, down 1 basis point.

The Local Government Funding Agency's 2025 bonds paying 2.75 percent traded at a yield of 2.15 percent, down 1 basis point, on a volume of 1.2 million notes.


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