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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall on Australian portfolio changes

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall amid talk of Australian portfolio reshuffle: TEL, AIA drop

By Jason Krupp

Dec. 9 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks fell amid talk that a significant portfolio was being restructured after an Australian fund manager lost its mandate. Auckland International Airport Ltd. and Telecom Corp. paced decliners on the bourse.

The NZX 50 Index fell 13.78 points, or 0.4%, to 3,280.55. Within the index, 17 stocks declined, 22 gained and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $170.6 million, noticeably higher than usual.

"It is all just rumour, but I've heard the same thing from a number of sources, so you have to wonder if there is some truth to it," said Rickey Ward, domestic equities manager for Tyndall Investment Management. "This is the first time in a while that we have been driven by flows."

Ward said four stocks had been heavily sold on the day, but he could only name construction company Fletcher Building Ltd. and casino and hotel operator SkyCity Entertainment Group. Fletcher fell 0.8% to $7.82, while SkyCity fell 1% to $3.13.

Other stocks heavily sold on the day included Auckland Airport, the country's busiest gateway, which fell 2.8% to $2.07, Telecom, which fell 2.8% to $2.09, and Contact Energy Ltd., New Zealand's third biggest listed company, fell 0.7% to $6.13.

Ward said the market had largely ignored the announcement by the Reserve Bank that it would be keeping the official cash rate at 3% until New Zealand's fragile economy was further along the path to recovery. The announcement pushed market bets of when the bank will begin tighten to June next year, having initially picked rates to start rising in March.

Pumpkin Patch Ltd., the children's clothing retailer, fell1.8% to $1.16, Steel & Tube Holdings, the manufacturer of steel products used in the construction industry, fell 1.4% to $2.07, and AMP NZ Office Trust, the investor in prime office properties, fell 1.3% to 76 cents.

PGG Wrightson Ltd., the rural services company, rose 4.2% to 50 cents, pacing gainer on the NZX 50.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd., the energy exploration and production company, rose 3.4% to 91 cents, Westpac Banking Corp., the Australian lender, rose 3% to $29.14, and Property for Industry Ltd., the commercial property owner, rose 2.7% to $1.13.

Warehouse Group, New Zealand's biggest listed retailer, rose 0.3% to $3.80 amid signs that consumers are loosening the grip on the wallets as the economy edges towards recovery.

Numbers released by Statistics New Zealand today show seasonally adjusted electronic card transactions at retailers rose 1.1% in November, after climbing 1.2% in the previous month.

Spending was led by 1.4% increase in retail transactions. Core retail spending, which excludes motor vehicle-related industries, rose 1% compared to October.

The monthly increase suggests that consumers' spending patterns are returning to normalised levels as the economy edges towards recovery, and not just a fluke related to the October increase in sales tax to 15% from 12.5% previously.


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