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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Pacific Edge, Xero, A2 decline

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Pacific Edge, Xero, A2 decline

By Suze Metherell

Sept. 2 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell following a sharp decline on Wall Street overnight, and were the worst performer across Asia in local trading. Momentum stocks, such as Pacific Edge, Xero and A2 Milk Co declined. Sky Network Television led the bourse lower after shedding rights to its dividend.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 64.79 points, or 1.1 percent, to 5590.2. Within the index, 42 stocks fell, six rose and two were unchanged. Turnover was $141 million.

Overnight the S&P 500 Index closed down 3 percent following yesterday's slide of equities in Europe and Asia amid mounting concern that the slowing pace of growth in China will curb the global economy. Fears about Chinese economic growth were stoked when data showed factory activity in China contracted in August at its fastest pace in three years.

In afternoon trading the local bourse was the worst performer in the Asian region, as it played catch up after closing flat yesterday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index edged down 0.03 percent in afternoon trading, while Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.2 percent, and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent.

"The other markets took their lesson yesterday in anticipation and kind of got it right," said James Smalley, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "We were essentially flat yesterday and a number of the other bourses, like the Australian market in particular and the Asia markets, were weak."

Momentum stocks were sold off as a risk-off attitude market weighed on investors. Pacific Edge, the biotech firm, dropped 3.9 percent to 50 cents. Xero, the cloud-based accounting firm, fell 1.4 percent to $13.70. A2 Milk, the milk marketing company, declined 1.4 percent to 69 cents.

Sky TV led the benchmark index lower, down 5.7 percent, or 29 cents, to $4.79 as the dominant pay television provider shed rights to its 15 cents per share final dividend.

"It's still suffering the repercussions of its result though," Smalley said. "There's always been that concern they'd be vulnerable to technological change regarding pay-TV."

Of the day's few gainers, Genesis Energy, the government controlled utility company, was the best performer up 1.1 percent to $1.81 as investors sought defensive plays, Smalley said. Property For Industry rose 1 percent to $1.495.

Other defensive investments fell less than more risk-sensitive stocks, Smalley said. Meridian Energy declined 0.4 percent to $2.24. MightyRiverPower fell 0.7 percent to $2.73. Goodman Property Group slipped 0.8 percent to $1.18. Fletcher Building retreated 0.4 percent to $7.25.

Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp, dropped 1.8 percent to $3.25.

Kathmandu Holdings declined 4.6 percent to $1.65. Briscoe Group reiterated its takeover offer for the outdoor goods retailer but said it won’t lift the offer above the implied $1.80 cash and scrip offer. Outside the benchmark index, Briscoe declined 0.7 percent to $2.83.

SkyCity Entertainment Group declined 2.6 percent to $3.81. The casino operator will sell $125 million of seven-year bonds paying annual interest of 4.65 percent, the bottom end of the indicative price range.

Kiwi Property Group slipped 0.4 percent to $1.305. The country's largest listed property investor paid $82.5 million for the Westgate retail centre in Auckland being developed by New Zealand Retail Property Group.


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