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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares snap 5-day slide

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares snap 5-day slide; Auckland Airport hits new high

By Paul McBeth

May 31 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares snapped a five-day decline, as Auckland International Airport chalked up a record. Vector and Chorus were among stocks recovering from a recent sell-off over regulatory fears.

The S&P/NZX Index increased 46.01 points, or 0.5 percent, to 10,117.99. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 21 fell, and five were unchanged. Turnover was $162.8 million.

"The market might finish up for the day. It'll be the first time this week, but there's really not a lot driving it," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Auckland International Airport rose as high as $8.78, ending the day at $8.765, up 1.7 percent on 2.3 million shares, almost twice its 90-day average of 1.2 million. The country's major gateway has climbed 22 percent so far this year, outpacing a 15 percent increase by the benchmark index.

Williamson said the stock is widely held, but he was at a loss to explain the recent strength, given the dividend yield at 3.5 percent was less attractive than other utility or infrastructure companies.

Vector led the market higher, up 2.5 percent at $3.73 on 126,000 shares. Auckland city's electricity and gas distribution network operator ended the week down 2.4 percent after a draft Commerce Commission decision declined assistance to help reduce the risk the firm faces from solar and other technologies that may reduce load on its network.

Telecommunications utility Chorus rose 1.6 percent to $5.78, recovering some of its loss over the past fortnight since a draft consultation paper from the Commerce Commission spooked some investors into thinking the network operator may face a tougher regulatory framework than they thought.

Retirement village stocks bounced back from recent selling pressure, with Ryman Healthcare up 2.2 percent at $11.58, Summerset Group rising 0.7 percent to $5.54, and Metlifecare increasing 1.4 percent to $4.47.

Williamson said there was a bit of bargain-hunting after the retirement stocks were weighed on by a slowdown in Auckland's property market, which is seen as a tailwind for the sector.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 0.3 percent to $15.40 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, more than twice its 90-day average. Williamson said the shares were sold off when some investors were disappointed by its record profit announcement earlier this week.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units rose 1.3 percent to $3.99, having dropped to a record low yesterday after Fonterra said April milk collection was down by about 10 percent from a year earlier. Fonterra Cooperative Shares advanced 1.3 percent to $4.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.9 million shares, still down on its average of 5.8 million. The shares rose 1.5 percent to $3.815. Goodman Property Trust increased 1.4 percent to $1.855 with 2.4 million units changing hands, while Argosy Property was up 1.2 percent at $1.32 on a volume of 2.2 million.

Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Meridian Energy fell 0.7 percent to $4.24, Kiwi Property Group was down 0.3 percent at $1.575, Pushpay Holdings decreased 0.3 percent to $3.79, and Precinct Properties New Zealand was unchanged at $1.62.

Synlait Milk reported the biggest decline for the day, down 3.1 percent at $8.87, its lowest close since December. A2 Milk was up 1.2 percent at $15.80.

Sky Network Television hit an all-time low $1.19, ending the day down 1.6 percent at $1.20.

Infratil fell 0.7 percent to $4.27 after saying the issues the Commerce Commission plans to assess when considering the company's joint purchase of Vodafone New Zealand were in line with expectations. Infratil said it believes there are strong reasons for the deal to be cleared. Separately, Infratil sold Snapper for a nominal sum, and said its Longroad Energy investment has started building a Texas solar project.

WEL Networks more than doubled its annual profit, driven by an expanding fibre business and increasing power connections. The company's 2023 bonds, paying 4.9 percent annual interest, closed at a yield of 3.45 percent, down 25 basis points.

The Local Government Funding Agency's 2025 bonds, paying 2.75 percent interest, were the most active debt security with 1.3 million notes traded. The yield was unchanged at 2.07 percent.


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