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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as heavyweights Auckland Airport, Meridian lose steam

By Paul McBeth

June 17 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell in relatively quiet trading, weighed down by blue-chip stocks such as Auckland International Airport and Meridian Energy which have been trading near records.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 65.11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 10,170.26. Within the index, 24 stocks fell, 19 rose, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $85 million.

The volume of trading was relatively quiet, with 18.8 million shares changing hands, down on its 90-day average of 30.4 million. Stocks across Asia were largely weaker, including in Australia, where the S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.2 percent in late trading.

Blue-chip companies with large weightings on New Zealand's benchmark index were generally weaker, giving up recent gains that have pushed the NZX50 to a record. Auckland Airport fell 2.1 percent to $8.83, Meridian Energy was down 1.7 percent at $4.41 on a volume of 1.2 million shares, and A2 Milk declined 1.4 percent to $14.64.

"The market itself has had a disappointing start to the week - there was a little bit of weakness in A2 and the electricity stocks are under a bit of pressure," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Contact Energy decreased 0.9 percent to $7.52 after chief executive Dennis Barnes signalled his intention to leave the power company early next year.

Ryman Healthcare led the market lower, down 2.5 percent at $11.36 on a volume of 268,000 shares, almost half its 438,000 average.

A slowing Auckland property market has weighed on retirement village stocks in recent months, and Williamson said they are still under pressure. Summerset Group fell 1.5 percent to $5.44 and Metlifecare was down 0.7 percent at $4.31.

Pushpay Holdings fell 2.1 percent to $3.82 on a smaller volume than usual of 229,000 shares. The mobile payments app developer will hold its annual meeting in Auckland tomorrow.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock with a volume of 4 million shares, less than its 5.4 million average. The telco fell 0.7 percent to $3.85. Kiwi Property Group, which holds its annual meeting later this week, was unchanged at $1.57 on a volume of 1.8 million shares, ahead of its 1.4 million average.

Kathmandu Holdings posted the day's biggest gain, up 2.9 percent at $2.15 on a volume of 203,000 shares, more than its 154,000 average. The retailer was sold off last week once it had shed rights to its interim dividend.

Gentrack Group increased 2.3 percent to $5.75 and Vista Group International advanced 1.7 percent to $5.85.

Ebos Group rose 2.2 percent to a record $23.50 on a volume of 54,000 shares, almost half its average volume.

Williamson said the stock has continued to outperform, driven by growing demand from Australian investors.

"It's in a pretty prime position in the Australian pharmaceutical distribution space and it just comes down to a fantastic track record of growing, and growth through acquisition - that's something a lot of New Zealand companies haven't managed to achieve in Australia," he said.

Dual-listed Australia & New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.9 percent to $30.06 on the NZX. The New Zealand arm of the lender today said chief executive David Hisco's temporary sick leave will now be permanent after an internal review raised concerns over his personal expenses.

Bank of New Zealand's 2023 medium-term notes paying annual interest of 4.1 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 315,000. The notes closed at a yield of 2.15 percent, down 15 basis points.


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