MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares slip as fears over slowing Chinese growth weigh; AMP slumps
By Paul McBeth
July 15 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, joining a downbeat day across Asia as slowing Chinese growth stoked fears that trade tensions will dent the global economy. AMP slumped after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand blocked the sale of its life insurance business.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 34.87 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,666.56. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 24 rose, and four were unchanged. Turnover was $110.4 million.
Australasian stocks were largely weaker as investors fretted over the slowest pace of quarterly growth in China for 27 years, with New Zealand and Australia both reliant on selling exports to the world's most populous nation. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.4 percent in afternoon trading.
"China's GDP growth is probably the worst we've seen since the early '90s - it's a mixed bag across Asia and we're part of that," said Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.
McIntyre said the upcoming earnings season will come under scrutiny because of the slowing Chinese growth, with a particular emphasis on what impact companies anticipate from the US-China trade tensions.
Local exporters were among the day's decliners, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare down 1.3 percent at $15.74, Pushpay Holdings falling1.8 percent to $3.34, and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units dropping 2 percent to $3.84.
McIntyre said the recent increase in swap rates was undermining the appeal of companies held for their reliable dividends. Meridian Energy, a major beneficiary of the yield story, led the market lower, down 3.1 percent at $4.67 on a smaller volume than usual of 703,000 shares. Mercury NZ was down 2 percent at $4.555 and Spark New Zealand declined 1.1 percent to $3.925 on just 589,000 shares.
Ryman Healthcare was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.4 million shares. It decreased 0.4 percent to $12.60. Sky Network Television increased 0.9 percent to $1.16 on 1.4 million shares.
Infratil dipped 0.2 percent to $4.73 on a volume of 1.1 million shares after saying its Longroad Energy investment secured financing for a wind farm in Texas. The infrastructure investor has attracted more interest since unveiling plans to buy Vodafone New Zealand as part of a consortium, and it last week upgraded guidance on the deal.
Tourism Holdings was the day's biggest gainer, up 2.2 percent at $3.75 on a volume of 92,000 shares. Metlifecare rose 2.1 percent to $4.45 on 64,000 shares.
NZX rose 1.7 percent to $1.17 after Napier Port lodged its offer document to raise up to a net $110 million in an initial public offering. The port operator plans to list in August.
Outside the benchmark index, dual-listed financial services firm AMP tumbled 14 percent to $1.91 after saying the planned A$3.3 billion sale of its life unit was highly unlikely due to stipulations required by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group decreased 1.1 percent to $28.28, and Westpac Banking Group was down 1 percent at $29.05.
Also outside the main index, PGG Wrightson was unchanged at 55 cents on an unusually large volume of 1.5 million shares.