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MARKET CLOSE: New Zealand stocks rise, led by ANZ, Westpac

MARKET CLOSE: New Zealand stocks rise, ANZ, Westpac pace gainers

By Jason Krupp

Dec. 2 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks rose for the second time in three sessions, lead by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp., as investor appetite for riskier equities returned amid signs that the U.S. economy is clawing its way into recovery.

The NZX 50 Index rose 20.38 points, or 0.6%, to 3,285.48.09. Within the index, 24 stocks gained, 15 declined and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $49.7 million.

ANZ, the parent bank of ANZ National Bank Ltd., rose 4.2% to $30.10 on the NZX, and rose 0.8% to A$23.49 on the ASX, while Westpac, the Australian lender, rose 3.8% to $28.40 on NZX, and rose0.6% to A$22.08 on the ASX.

"Markets have been oversold, especially financial stocks," said Paul Richardson, who helps manage $300 million in equities for BT Funds Management. "I get the feeling with financial stocks that all the bad news is already in the price."

Investors return to equities in force with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up 2.2% to 1,206.07 as a string of positive data out of the U.S. showed the world's biggest economy may be moving out of recession and into recovery mode. Sovereign debt fears were also calmed by rumours the European Central Bank may increase its purchase of securities to shore up confidence.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp., the manufacturer of breathing masks and respirators, rose 2.7% to $3.07, which Richardson attributed to the recovery in the greenback with 80% of the company's sales coming from the U.S. market.

Air New Zealand Ltd., the national carrier, rose 2.2% to $1.41, after reports Queenstown will ask locals whether it should sell a 25% stake in the Queenstown Airport to Auckland International Airport Ltd. The airline is opposed to the deal and is challenging it in court.

Air NZ expanded its court case to include the directors of Queenstown Airport, which it said acted illegally when they sold the stake. Shares in Auckland Airport were unchanged at $2.11.

Kiwi Income Property Trust, the country's biggest listed property investor, was unchanged at $1 after it agreed to buy Auckland's LynnMall Shopping Centre from AMP Capital Property for $174 million.

Buying LynnMall will lift the Trust's retail sector weighting from to 63% from 60% and increase its weighting to Auckland to 53% from 48%. The acquisition will be funded from existing bank debt facilities. The deal is subject of Overseas Investment Office approval as Kiwi Income's manager is owned by Australia's Colonial First State Global Asset Management.

Sanford Ltd., the fisheries group, rose 2.1% to $4.85 having yesterday completed its acquisition of the Greenshell mussel and Pacific Oyster businesses from Pacifica Seafoods for $85 million.

The deal could potentially be ill-timed after the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced today it is urgently investigating why up to half of the juvenile Pacific Oyster stocks in New Zealand have died. An estimated 80% of the harbours where oysters are farmed in the North Island have seen a high number of unexplained deaths of the shell fish which were due to be harvested late next year.

PGG Wrightson Ltd., the rural services company, fell 2% to 48 cents, pacing decliners on the NZX. Property for Industry Ltd., the commercial property investor, fell 1.7% to $1.13, and Ebos Group, which supplies medical and scientific products, fell 1.7% to $7.62.

(BusinessDesk)

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