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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares outperform Asia as exporters gain

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares outperform Asia as exporters gain; Sky leads market higher

By Paul McBeth

July 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose for a fourth day, outperforming the rest of Asia, as exporters including A2 Milk Co, Mainfreight, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare all gained. Sky Network Television led the market higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 71.54 points, or 0.7 percent, to a record 10,824.69. Within the index 29 stocks rose, 11 fell, and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $144.7 million, of which Mainfreight accounted for $24.2 million.

The local market reported the biggest increase in afternoon trading across Asian markets, with most major indices starting the week in the red with investors unnerved by the heightened tensions between Britain and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Taiwan's SE Weighted Index was the second-best performer, also up 0.7 percent in afternoon trading, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.8 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.3 percent.

"It's another record high on the NZX50 - nothing is holding this market at the moment," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It's bucking the international trend with Australia off and the Dow (Jones) a little weaker."

The larger exporters were among stocks to rise, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare up 1.9 percent at $16.26 on a volume of 1.2 million shares, more than twice its 90-day average of 548,000. Mainfreight rose 1.9 percent to $41 on a volume of 579,000 shares, about 10 times its 58,000 average.

A2 climbed 1.7 percent to a record $17.13 on a volume of 295,000 shares, less than half its 730,000 average. Vista Group International was up 0.2 percent at $6 on a volume of 927,000 shares, almost three times its 338,000 average.

Sky TV rose 3.4 percent to $1.22 on a volume of 286,000 shares, about a quarter of its 1.2 million average. The pay-TV operator has been under pressure in recent months as investors question whether it will be able to respond to the growing threat from online streaming services. The stock hit an all-time low $1.15 on Friday.

Spark New Zealand, which will stream the Rugby World Cup later this year, fell 1 percent to $3.89 on a volume of 2.8 million shares. It was the most traded stock, but was still down on its 4.1 million average.

Meridian Energy rose 1 percent to $4.93 on a volume of 1.7 million shares, Fletcher Building increased by 1 percent to $4.92 with 1.3 million shares changing hands, and Contact Energy advanced 0.8 percent to $7.85 on 1.million shares.

Tourism Holdings posted the biggest decline, down 3.6 percent at $3.99 on a volume of 110,000 shares, down on its 175,000 average. That's still a premium to the $3.88 investors paid in a shortfall bookbuild on Thursday to pick up the remaining shares not sold in a rights offer at $3.40 apiece.

Argosy Property fell 1.4 percent to $1.385 and Genesis Energy was down 1.2 percent at $3.41.

Outside the benchmark index, Plexure Group jumped 11 percent to $1.03 after it said it's signed US fast-food chain White Castle as a new customer, without providing any details on predicted revenue gains. The mobile app vendor has soared 289 percent so far this year, and is the best performing stock on the S&P/NZX All Index.

South Port New Zealand rose 2.9 percent to $7 after saying it beat earnings guidance, and will report an annual profit in line with the record it posted in 2018.

The Bluff port operator said the increased earnings was due to stronger cargo flows late in the season, and comes as investors are assessing the upcoming float of Napier Port. The priority offer for Hawke’s Bay residents, non-resident ratepayers, eligible port staff and certain iwi entities opens tomorrow.

Port of Tauranga increased 0.3 percent to $6.14, while Northport shareholder Marsden Maritime Holdings was up 0.4 percent at $5.30.

NZX was unchanged at $1.20, its highest level in almost two years.

Mercury NZ's capital bonds paying annual interest of 3.6 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 1.1 million. The notes closed at an unchanged yield of 3.17 percent.


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