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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares outperform Asia

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares outperform Asia as Synlait, Air NZ recover

By Paul McBeth

June 12 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares were among the best performers across Asia Pacific, led by recoveries in Synlait Milk and Air New Zealand on relatively light volumes.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 65.99 points, 0.7 percent, to 10,205.14. Within the index, 31 stocks gained, 11 fell, and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $128.6 million.

The local benchmark was second only to Pakistan's Karachi 100 Index, which was up 1.1 percent in early trading, as investors continue to ponder the impact of the ongoing US-China trade stoush. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will meet later this month at a G20 leaders' meeting where it's hoped they will reach a deal and soothe international fears that a prolonged dispute will slow global growth.

Peter McIntyre, an investment advisor at Craigs Investment Partners, said the NZX50 is being buoyed by the dominance of infrastructure stocks offering reliable dividends at a time when already low interest rates may go even lower.

"Investors are pretty happy to hold on to good solid infrastructure stocks, which the NZX50 is largely made up of," he said. "There's not many sellers in the market."

Synlait led the market higher, up 4.9 percent at $9.70 on 46,000 shares, less than half its 90-day average of 126,000. McIntyre said the stock was recovering from the recent sell-off on fears that it won't be able to open its largely finished facility in Pokeno.

Air New Zealand rose 2.9 percent to $2.685 on a volume of 466,000 shares, less than half its 1.2 million average. McIntyre said the stock's dividend yield - currently 11.7 percent - was attractive for investors.

Auckland International Airport was the most traded stock on a volume of 2.1 million shares, almost twice its 1.3 million average. The airport operator rose 0.7 percent to a record $8.92 and is the third-biggest company by market capitalisation at $10.77 billion.

A2 Milk is the second biggest at $10.8 billion and rose 1.2 percent to $14.82. Meridian Energy remains the biggest at $11.4 billion, rising 0.1 percent to $4.44 on a volume of 1.9 million shares.

Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Contact Energy was up 0.7 percent at $7.65, Spark New Zealand rose 1.1 percent to $3.805, Fletcher Building increased 0.8 percent to $5.39, Goodman Property Group advanced 0.8 percent to $1.84 and Kiwi Property Group was unchanged at $1.565.

Sky Network Television increased 0.9 percent to $1.19 after announcing a new chief financial officer who has come from consultancy McKinsey & Co.

Kathmandu Holdings posted the day's biggest decline, down 1.8 percent at $2.17 on a smaller volume than usual of 45,000 shares.

Scales Corp was down 1.6 percent at $4.80. The company affirmed annual earnings guidance at today's annual meeting and noted the smaller harvest for its horticulture unit was in line with expectations.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units fell 1 percent to $3.91 and Vital Healthcare Property Trust was down 0.8 percent at $2.40.

Outside the benchmark index, NZME dropped 2 percent to 49 cents. The company said the decline in the advertising market was slowing and touted its success in attracting paying subscribers to its online news service.

Mercury NZ's 2044 capital bonds paying annual interest of 6.9 percent were the most traded debt security with a volume of 2.3 million notes. They closed at a yield of 2.5 percent, down 70 basis points. The bonds will be redeemed when the interest rate is scheduled to reset next month, and Mercury will replace it with a similar $300 million issue with a minimum interest rate of 3.6 percent.

Mercury shares rose 1.3 percent to $4, trading at a yield of 5.38 percent.


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