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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks join global rout, led by AMP

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks join global rout; AMP, Goodman Fielder lead decliners

By Jason Krupp

Aug. 5 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks fell for a third session this week, joining Asia Pacific bourses in a mass selloff amid renewed concerns about the U.S. growth outlook and fears Italy may be the next country to become entangled in the European debt crisis. AMP Ltd. and Goodman Fielder Ltd. led decliners on the exchange.

The NZX 50 Index fell 99.05 points, or 2.9%, to 3,278.71, the lowest level since December 2010, and declined 3.4% on a weekly basis. Within the index, all 50 stocks on the benchmark fell. Turnover was $124.5 million.

Asia Pacific equity markets were a sea of red ink today, as the sharp pullback in investor appetite for higher yielding or riskier assets spread to across the region. In afternoon trade, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell 3.4% to 9,307.94, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 4.8% to 20,844.59, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 4% to 4,105.1.

"The New Zealand market is just reflecting what is going on offshore, with investors questioning the growth outlook in the U.S. and whether Europe's sovereign debt crisis is about to spread into Italy," said Paul Harrison, who helps manage $300 million in New Zealand shares for BT Funds Management. "There's a lot of nervousness out there about the situation at the moment, and about the ability of politicians to deal with it."

AMP, the dual-listed wealth manager which recently acquired the Australian and New Zealand assets of Axa Asia Pacific Holding, fell 7.5% to $4.95, its lowest level since before the global financial crisis.

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Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredient manufacturer, fell 6.1% to $1.08.

Guinness Peat Group, the investment holding company, fell 5.8% to 65 cents.
Retail stocks were again in the spotlight today, after yesterday's Household Labour Force Survey showed the sector continued to struggle in the second quarter of this year, shedding 22,000 people to employ 325,800 in retail trade and accommodation.

Kathmandu Holdings, the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, fell 5.7% to $2.15. Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing chain, fell 2.9% to 99 cents.
Michael Hill International Ltd., the jeweller, fell 1.1% to 91 cents.

Nuplex Industries Ltd., the industrial chemicals and resins manufacturer, fell 5.5% to $2.56.

Skellerup Holdings, the rubber goods and milking equipment manufacturer, fell 5.1% to $1.20.

Air New Zealand Ltd., the national carrier, fell 5.1% to $1.11.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings, the whiteware manufacturer, fell 5% to 57 cents with the lower New Zealand dollar doing little to help the exporter stave off a sell down on the day.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd., the energy exploration and production company, fell 4.4% to 66 cents as demand for oil fell sharply. ICE Brent Crude futures were last trading at US$107.69 a barrel, down from US$113.46 yesterday.

Fletcher Building Ltd., the country's biggest construction firm, fell 3.8% to $7.71.

Telecom Corp., the country's biggest phone company, fell 3.2% to $2.57.
Contact Energy Ltd., the country's biggest listed company, fell 2% to $5.03.

Briscoe Group, the homeware and sporting goods retailer, was unchanged at $1.43 after the company said first-half net profit will come about 10% higher than last year on the back of improved second quarter sales.

Net profit was at least $10.2 million in the six months ended July 31, up from $9.3 million in the same period previously, the company said in a statement today. That's on a 4.8% rise in second quarter group sales to $97.8 million compared to the same period last year, led by a 6.3% improvement in sporting goods sales and a 4.2% rise in homeware sales.


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