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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares edge higher in quiet trading

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares edge higher in quiet trading; weaker currency buoys exporters

By Paul McBeth

July 17 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares edged up in quiet trading as exporters including Tourism Holdings and Air New Zealand led the market higher as a weaker currency underpinned their international earnings. Fletcher Building dropped below the $5 mark.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 3.6 points, or 0.03 percent, to 10,654.80. Within the index, 21 stocks gained, 20 fell, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $125.2 million.

Local trading has been thin during the past week and a half with fewer people on deck over the school holiday period. Activity will ramp up in the coming month for the August earnings season, when the majority of NZX-listed companies report their first-half and annual results.

"It's school holidays and a lot of people are away. Volumes are light and some prices are influenced by the light volumes," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management.

Export-orientated stocks led the market higher with the New Zealand dollar holding around 67 US cents. The weaker kiwi increases the value of earnings in foreign currencies and boosts the bottom line of exporters.

Tourism Holdings rose 2.9 percent to $3.94 on a volume of 118,000 shares, down on its 90-day average of 171,000. Air New Zealand rose 2.2 percent to $2.75 on 1.3 million shares, more than its 926,000 average, and Pushpay advanced 2.1 percent to $3.40.

A2 Milk rose 1.8 percent to $16.70 on 1.7 million shares, more than twice its 715,000 average, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was up 1.8 percent at $15.73 on 315,000 shares, less than its 562,000 average.

Auckland International Airport slipped 0.1 percent to $9.47 after its passenger numbers showed declining traffic, particularly from China. Goodson said those numbers may pose a risk to the airport operator's forecast earnings for next year.

Fletcher posted the day's biggest decline, down 3.5 percent at $4.99 on a volume of 774,000 shares, less than its 974,000 average.

Chorus fell 2 percent to $5.54 after reporting steady growth in its broadband connections and ongoing losses in total connections. Goodson said the decline in total connections was a little more than expected, with the network operator permanently losing copper-line customers in areas where it isn't building the fibre network.

Spark New Zealand, the country's biggest internet service provider, was down 0.4 percent at $3.88 on a volume of 2.5 million shares, the most active stock for the day. That's still down on its 4.2 million average.

Among other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Infratil slipped 0.2 percent to $4.705, Genesis Energy fell 0.7 percent to $3.45, Kiwi Property Group was unchanged at $1.60, and Meridian Energy decreased 0.4 percent to $4.76.

NZX was unchanged at $1.17 on a volume of 981,000 shares, more than twice its 342,000 average. The stock market operator this week added Sharesies as a new platform for investors to buy stocks directly. Details of the initial public offering for Napier Port were also published this week.

Z Energy decreased 1.1 percent to $6.22 after reaffirming annual earnings and dividend guidance with its June-quarter operating data. Goodson said they were in line with expectations.

Arvida Group was halted at $1.37 today to allow for a shortfall bookbuild where almost 11 million shares that weren't taken up in a rights offer will be sold. The plans to raise $92 million of new capital will help fund $180 million of new retirement villages.

Contact Energy fell 2.2 percent to $7.77 on a volume of just 534,000, less than half its 1.5 million average.

Outside the benchmark index, Rakon rose 3.5 percent to 30 cents on an unusually large volume of 1.3 million shares.

Property For Industry's 2024 bond paying annual interest of 4.59 percent was the most traded debt security on a volume of 1.3 million. The notes closed at an unchanged yield of 3 percent.


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