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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares follow ASX higher

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares follow ASX higher on optimism over US trade deal

By Paul McBeth

June 11 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares followed Australian stocks higher as traders across the Tasman returned from a long weekend more optimistic after the US administration made trade-friendly noises in recent days. Exporter A2 Milk led the local market higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 111.54 points, or 1.1 percent, to 10,139.15. Within the index, 30 stocks gained, 15 fell, and five were unchanged. Turnover was $118.5 million.

The local market lagged behind its Australian counterpart. The S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 1.5 percent in late trading, with investors returning to work after the US put off imposing tariffs on Mexican goods. The prospect of the Federal Reserve cutting US interest rates to offset the impact of the White House's combative trade stance had also buoyed global equity markets.

New Zealand's equity market was unusually quiet yesterday with Australian markets closed for the Queen's Birthday holiday. The NZX was one of just two benchmark indices to decline across Asia yesterday.

"It's all about trade between the US and anybody else," said Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "That's where the market's looking."

The New Zealand dollar dropped below 66 US cents as the greenback rallied on speculation that a trade deal may be struck between the US and China. That supported exporters, which reap bigger earnings in kiwi dollars when the currency is weak.

A2 led the market higher, up 3.2 percent at $14.65 on a volume of 689,000 shares, down on its 90-day average of 820,000. Global logistics firm Mainfreight hit a record high $39.50. It closed at $39.30, up 2 percent, on a volume of 37,000 shares, below its 50,000 average.

Air New Zealand rose 1.6 percent to $2.61 on a volume of 1.7 million shares, and Pushpay Holdings was up 1.3 percent at $3.79. Scales Corp, which is holding its annual meeting in Napier tomorrow, increased 0.6 percent to $4.88.

Fletcher Building rose 2.9 percent to $5.35 on a volume of 1.7 million shares. The country's biggest construction company will hold an investor briefing later this month where it will provide more details on how it plans to spend the proceeds of its Formica sale.

Chorus rose 1.7 percent to $5.90 after the Commerce Commission said the network operator's backhaul services don't currently need heavier regulation. It said upcoming reviews might bring some of those services under a new regulated pricing framework.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.2 million shares, down on its 5.4 million average. The shares slipped 0.3 percent to $3.765.

Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Kiwi Property Group increased 0.3 percent to $1.565, Genesis Energy was up 0.6 percent at $3.14, Meridian Energy rose 1.1 percent to $4.30, Infratil increased by 0.5 percent to $4.35 and Goodman Property Trust advanced 0.3 percent to $1.825.

Argosy Property posted the day's biggest decline, down 2.9 percent, or 4 cents, at $1.32 on a volume of 1.4 million shares, more than twice its 90-day average. The property company shed rights to a 1.59 cent dividend today. Arvida Group shed rights to a 1.6 cent dividend, and was down 0.8 percent, or 1 cent, at $1.32.

Contact Energy increased by 0.4 percent to $7.60 on a volume of 1.1 million shares after saying it will pay $10.7 million for a 49.9 percent stake in Simply Energy as part of a broader strategy to help commercial and industrial customers reduce emissions.

Outside the benchmark index, Allied Farmers fell 1.3 percent to 7.5 cents after saying annual earnings will be steady despite the impact of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and response. Net profit will be lower than the year-earlier period when the company booked a one-off gain.

NZME was unchanged at 50 cents ahead of tomorrow's annual meeting in Auckland.

The Local Government Funding Agency's 2025 bond paying annual interest of 2.75 percent was the most traded debt security with a volume of 632,000 notes. It closed at a yield of 2.02 percent, down 3 basis points.

(BusinessDesk)

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