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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; WHS falls, HLG up

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed as Bollard flags rate hike; WHS, GFF fall, HLG up

Dec. 10 (BusinessWire) – New Zealand shares ended the day mixed after Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard brought forward the timing of interest rate hikes, sending the kiwi dollar higher. Warehouse Group fell after pay talks broke down.

The NZX 50 Index rose 4.64, or 0.1%, to 3132.28, the first gain in five days. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 13 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $84.5 million.

The New Zealand dollar rose as high as 72.49 U.S. cents in the wake of Bollard’s statement that interest rates may rise in mid 2010, from 71.21 cents immediately before the statement.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which gets almost 80% of its revenue in U.S. dollars, fell 0.6% to $3.37. F&P Appliances declined 3.4% to 57 cents.

Warehouse, the biggest retailer on the NZX 50, declined 0.2% to $4.11. The company is disappointed that mediated talks broke down with the National Distribution Union, which counts 1,800 of Warehouse’s 7,500 workers as members. Stores won’t be disrupted because the company is taking on an extra 1,700 workers for the Christmas rush, said HR director Paul Walsh.

Goodman Fielder fell 4.8% to $1.98 on the NZX after the biggest bakery company in Australasia announced the U.S. conglomerate Cargill has agreed to buy its edible oils unit, its biggest business after baking, for A$240 million.

New Zealand Refining, the nation’s only oil refinery, fell 4.8% to a two-month low $4 as investors await progress on Shell New Zealand’s plan to sell its downstream assets including a stake in the refinery and a chain of petrol stations.

Contact Energy, the biggest utility of the NZX 50, fell 1% to $5.77, its second daily declined after Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday announced changes to the electricity industry including an asset ‘swap’ among state-owned power companies that will see Genesis Energy take over Meridian Energy’s two Tekapo power stations. That potentially bolsters competition in the South Island, one of Contact’s most profitable regions.

TrustPower, the power company controlled by Infratil Ltd., fell 2.1% to $7.15. It also can expect to face stiffer competition in its high margin regional networks, especially in the South Island, as a result of the Brownlee reforms announced yesterday.

SmartPay Ltd., the merchant services provider, gained 2.4% to 4.3 cents, adding to a 2.4% gain yesterday when the company announced an agreement to supply 106 Paper Plus stores and 58 Take Note stores with updated eftpos and "point of decision" in-store marketing systems.

Nuplex Industries, the specialty chemicals maker, fell 3.1% to $251 and Ebos Group, the medical supplies company, shed 2% to $5.53.


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