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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares fall as Chinese manufacturing slows

MARKET CLOSE NZ shares fall as Chinese manufacturing slows; Heartland, OGC drop

Aug 1 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell from a 2 ½-month high as figures showing China's manufacturing expanded at the slowest pace in eight months weighed on equity markets and investors await the outcome of central bank meetings in the US and Europe.

The NZX 50 index fell 14.36 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3530.64. Within the index, 29 stocks fell, 13 gained and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $105 million.

The decline was led by would-be bank, Heartland New Zealand, down 3.6 percent to 53 cents, while OceanaGold, who operates the Macraes gold mine near Dunedin, fell 2.3 percent to $2.59.

"It is a function of all these factors that is leading the market," Craig Brown, senior investment analyst at One Path New Zealand. "People are still worried about Europe and China."

Fletcher Building, the biggest construction company on the bourse, fell 0.8 percent to $6.06. That comes as Australian data yesterday showed approvals to build new homes in June fell 2.5 percent. Still, separate figures today showed house prices in major cities in Australia rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter.

"Fletcher Building is interesting because we are watching what is happening in Christchurch - then there is the weaker housing data out of Australia," Brown said. "These are both things which could support the stock down the track."

Telecom, the largest company on the exchange, fell 0.2 percent to $2.655.

Tower, the insurance and wealth management company, rose 1.2 percent to $1.72 after a smaller rival insurer, China Taiping Insurance, told brokers it will exit the local market, effective immediately, citing reinsurance difficulties. Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank signalled reinsurance premiums would rise, with a large number of general insurers renewing contracts this year.

Shares in Argosy Property rose 0.6 percent to 87 cents and have gained 10 percent this year. The company has renegotiated its syndicated bank facility, increasing the amount it can borrow and reducing costs. The facility with ANZ National Bank, Bank of New Zealand and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp has been increased to $500 million from $450 million, split into two $250 million tranches that expire in June 2015 and June 2017.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 0.6 percent to $30.44, while rival Westpac fell 1.6 percent to $29.82.

The gainers were led by Goodman Fielder, the food ingredients manufacturer whose brands include Edmonds baking products and Vogel’s bread, up 1.6 percent to 65 cents.

(BusinessDesk)

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