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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks drift in pre-Xmas trade

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks drift in light Christmas Eve trade; PPP up, NZX down

Dec. 24 (BusinessWire) – The NZX 50 drifted lower in light trading, in a shortened Christmas Eve session. Pan Pacific Petroleum led gainers as the price of crude oil rose. Carpet maker Cavaliar Corp. was the biggest decliner.

The NZX 50 fell 4.36, or 0.1%, to 3205.20, snapping two days of gains. Within the index, 18 stocks fell, 16 rose and 16 were unchanged. Turnover was $36.6 million, making it one of the weakest trading sessions this year.

Pan Pacific gained 8% to 54 cents. New York crude rose for a third day after U.S. Energy Department figures showed a bigger-than-expected decline in stockpiles.

Crude oil for February delivery traded at US$77.35 a barrel in early Singapore trading. Oil has soared about 75% this year.

PGG Wrightson, the nation’s biggest rural services company, rose 3.5% to 60 cents. The company has completed its rights issue, raising $180.7 million. The fund raising allows Wrightson to repay some $200 million of bank debt early.
“It is an excellent result for PGW to have successfully completed the rights issue before the New Year,” said chairman Keith Smith.

NZX Ltd., the stock exchange operator, fell 1.3% to $2.28. The exchange, which may end up competing with the ASX for the local electricity futures market, yesterday warned against foreign ownership, saying home jurisdictions are better placed to meet industry requirements.

Freightways Ltd., the courier and logistics group, rose 4.6% to $3.40. The company is rated ‘outperform’ based on the consensus of seven analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group climbed 2.6% to $28 and Westpac Banking Corp. rose 1.6% to $31. New Zealand’s four biggest banks yesterday announced they have settled their tax case with the Inland revenue Department for about $2.2 billion, agreeing to pay about 80% of the disputed amount and saving themselves some $550 million combined.

Allied Farmers fell 6% to 12.5 cents. The shares have tumbled 62% in the past six months. Shares on issue now exceed 1.9 billion, compared to 37.7 million before the firm purchased the financial assets of Hanover Finance and United Finance.

The “sheer weight of supply” is a risk overhanging Allied Farmers, Stephen Wright, private client adviser at ASB Securities, said yesterday.

Nuplex Industries rose 1.4% to $2.94. The shares tumbled 34% in 2009, a year when it was forced to sell stock at a deep discount to shore up its balance sheet.

“It’s got itself out of trouble” and is well-prepared for next year, said Stephen Walker, head of asset management at Goldman Sachs JBWere.

Ebos Group, the medical supplies distributor, rose 2.8% to $5.80 and Skellerup Holdings gained 2.1% to 49 cents.

Telecom Corp. fell 2% to $2.45 and trucking firm Mainfreight Ltd. declined 1.7% to $5.65.

(BusinessWire)

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