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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares follow Chinese market lower

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares follow Chinese market lower as investors eye Fed; Steel & Tube falls

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 15 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares followed Chinese stocks lower, with investors reluctant to take big positions ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting this week. Steel & Tube Holdings fell and Kathmandu Holdings gained.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 14.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5652.39. Within the index, 21 stocks fell, 14 rose, and 15 were unchanged. Turnover was $113 million.

The prospect of a slowing Chinese economy has prompted investors to pay more attention to the Shanghai Composite Index, which fell 2.5 percent in afternoon trading. That weighed on New Zealand's market, where trading was relatively subdued as investors await the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Thursday in Washington, which may deliver the first interest rate hike in the US in nine years. Low interest rates have been propping up share markets around the world as investors seek bigger returns from their portfolios.

"In the absence of local news, it's really going to be what happens on Friday our time with the Federal Reserve and what they're going to do," said James Smalley, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch.

Steel & Tube led the benchmark lower, falling 2.3 percent to $2.56 after the metal products manufacturer completed an $8 million acquisition of polyethylene pipe maker Aquaduct and Bosch Irrigation.

Dual-listed Australia & New Zealand Banking Group dropped 1.5 percent to $30.72 and Westpac Banking Corp slipped 1.2 percent to $34.25. Among blue chip stocks to decline, Sky Network Television fell 1.6 percent to $4.80, Auckland International Airport decreased 1.2 percent to $4.79, and Contact Energy slipped 1 percent to $5.05.

Smalley said investors "are increasingly looking at a lower and lower interest rate environment," and continued to favour companies paying relatively high dividend yields.

Companies held for their high dividends gained, with Genesis Energy up 2.4 percent to $1.91, its highest close since June 19. Meridian Energy rose 1.6 percent to $2.19, MightyRiverPower advanced 1 percent to $2.665, Kiwi Property increased 0.8 percent to $1.295, and Goodman Property Trust gained 0.4 percent to $1.18.

Kathmandu led the benchmark index higher, gaining 8.2 percent to 1.58, after the outdoor equipment retailer's board affirmed its recommendation for shareholders to reject a hostile takeover bid by Briscoe Group. Shares of Briscoe, which are outside the NZX 50, increased 0.3 percent to $3.

Units of the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund, which gives investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group's earnings, gained 0.8 percent to $4.92. The Commerce Commission said Fonterra's farmgate price of $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids in the 2015 season was in line with legislative requirements, and will weigh up the impact of an interest free loan when assessing the current season, which is forecast to be $3.85/kgMS.

Fletcher Building increased 0.3 percent to $7.37, while Spark New Zealand rose 0.3 percent to $3.26.


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