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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain as passive funds bolster prices; Tourism Holdings climbs

By Paul McBeth

July 19 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares remained in record territory as passive investment funds appeared to support the upward trend in school holiday-affected trading. Tourism Holdings led the market higher when it resumed trading.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 12.06 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,753.15. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 18 fell, and five were unchanged. Turnover was $97 million, with just four companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares.

Trading has been quieter than usual over the school holiday period and almost half the transactions through the exchange in recent days have been in the 15-minute match period before the market closes.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said that suggested passive investment funds had an outsized influence on the market, which hit a record 10,783.18 in intraday trading today.

"They don't care what price they pay for anything and that's quite a factor at the moment," he said. "When you get such strong price momentum, you do get trend followers jumping on board as well."

New Zealand's benchmark index has gained 22 percent so far this year. it is the second-best performer across Asian indices tracked by Refinitiv, behind a 27 percent increase on the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index.

NZX rose 1.7 percent to $1.20 on a volume of 1.1 million shares, almost three times its 352,000 average. The stock market operator is trading at its highest level since August 2017, having welcomed its first initial public offering for almost two years last month in Cannasouth. It is poised to add another when Napier Port lists in August.

Tourism Holdings led the market higher, up 5.1 percent at $4.14 on a volume of 346,000 shares, more than its 90-day average of 172,000. Trading was halted yesterday to offer the remaining shares from a rights offer to investors in a shortfall bookbuild. The shares cleared at $3.88 in the bookbuild, a 48-cent premium.

Arvida Group had a similar experience yesterday, with a clearing price of $1.35 in a shortfall bookbuild, a 20-cent premium. It was unchanged at $1.38 today.

Ryman Healthcare rose 1.7 percent to $13.20 on a volume of 535,000 shares, more than its 477,000 average. Goodson said the country's biggest listed retirement village operator had diverged from the rest of the sector since a very large trade earlier this week.

Summerset Group increased 0.2 percent to $5.73 and Metlifecare advanced 0.2 percent to $4.35.

A2 Milk Co increased 0.4 percent to $16.85 on a smaller volume than usual of 507,000 shares. Synlait Milk, which supplies A2, increased 1.6 percent to $9.79.

Chorus was the day's most traded stock on a volume of almost 3 million shares, compared to its 476,000 average. The stock fell 0.7 percent to $5.44.

Kiwi Property Group increased 0.6 percent to $1.615 on a volume of 1.8 million shares, and Precinct Properties New Zealand was up 0.3 percent at $1.78 with 1 million shares changing hands. Spark New Zealand fell 0.3 percent to $3.93 on an unusually small volume of 813,000 shares, well down on its 4.2 million average.

New Zealand Refining posted the day's biggest decline, down 1.9 percent at $2.11 on a volume of 261,000 shares, in line with its 213,000 average. The Marsden Point refinery operator's latest operating figures showed weaker global refining margins in May and June, which Goodson said was in line with expectations.

A number of yield stocks were weaker, with Contact Energy down 1.3 percent at $7.79, Argosy Property falling 1.1 percent to $1.405, Genesis Energy declining 0.9 percent to $3.45 and Auckland International Airport slipping 0.6 percent to $9.60. Meridian Energy decreased 0.4 percent to $4.88.

Vector was unchanged at $3.84 after reporting weaker volumes due to milder weather in the June quarter, while connection growth was in line with expectations.

Heartland Bank's 2024 bonds paying annual interest of 3.55 percent were the most traded debt security with a volume of 1.7 million. The notes closed at a yield of 3.02 percent, down 2 basis points. Heartland Group Holdings shares fell 0.6 percent to $1.68.


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