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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as trade concerns resurface

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as trade concerns resurface; Fonterra recovery pauses

New Zealand shares fell as fears over the US-China trade war re-emerged and weighed on investor confidence across the region. The Fonterra Shareholders' Fund's recent rally also took a breather.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 75.29 points, or 0.7 percent, to 10,940.86. Within the index, 32 stocks fell, 14 rose and four were unchanged. Turnover was $122.4 million.

Stocks across Asia were weaker as volatile investor sentiment turned sour, with the trade war between the US and China an ongoing concern. The US Commerce Department placed 28 Chinese companies on a list banning American firms from doing business with them, ahead of trade negotiations between the two nations on Thursday in Washington.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was down 0.4 percent in afternoon trading, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.8 percent.

Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the ongoing dispute between US President Donald Trump's administration and China had weighed on Wall Street, which carried through into Asian trading.

"Investors are just getting a little bit nervous with the continuing argument between Trump and China," he said.

The Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 2 percent to $3.97 on a volume of 433,000 units, almost twice its 90-day average of 214,000. The fund had climbed 26 percent since unveiling a new strategy, putting its New Zealand assets squarely at the centre of its efforts to pursue value over volume.

"After a great run following their result, it has come under some profit-taking pressure today," Williamson said.

A2 Milk Co declined 1.8 percent to $12.81 and Synlait Milk fell 1.5 percent to $9.02.

Chorus fell 1.2 percent to $5.04 in relatively light trading of 213,000 shares, compared to its 522,000 average. The network operator announced former NBN and Telstra executive JB Rousselot will take over as chief executive next month. The company also unveiled strong connection growth for the September quarter.

Williamson said the new CEO appeared to have pretty good credentials and the quarterly connections went relatively well. But the stock was caught up in the broader market weakness, he said.

New Zealand Refining led the market lower, down 2.9 percent at $2.02 on a volume of 166,000 shares, less than its 207,000 average.

Fletcher Building was the most traded stock on a volume of 2.2 million shares, more than its 1.3 million average. It fell 1 percent to $4.80.

Ryman Healthcare rose 0.5 percent to $13 on an unusually large volume of 2 million shares, almost five times its 417,000 average.

Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Spark New Zealand fell 0.8 percent to $4.615, Meridian Energy dropped 2.5 percent to $5.215, Auckland International Airport declined 1.4 percent to $8.95, Contact Energy rose 0.6 percent to $9.03 and Air New Zealand was down 0.7 percent at $2.835.

Skellerup Holdings posted the day's biggest gain, up 4.6 percent at $2.30 on a volume of 163,000 shares, in line with its 171,000 average. The rubber goods manufacturer told shareholders at today's annual meeting that it was on track to achieve more earnings growth in the current financial year.

"They were pretty upbeat expectations on future earnings growth in the current year," Williamson said.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand rose 2.9 percent to $11.88 and Gentrack Group was up 2 percent at $5.15.

Arvida Group increased 0.7 percent to $1.47 after it noted the confirmation of a new surgical hospital in Queenstown was planned on land next to its Queenstown Country Club village.

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