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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in light trading

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in light trading; A2, Z Energy, SkyCity gain while Sky TV drops

By Sophie Boot

Sept. 25 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose in quiet trading following the general election as investors await the formation of a government, led by A2 Milk Co and SkyCity Entertainment Group.

The S&P/NZX50 gained 54.99 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,869.77. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 11 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $88 million.

Preliminary results show New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters in a powerful position as all parties fell short of the necessary 61 seats to secure a parliamentary majority. National won 58 seats while Labour has 45, the Green Party has seven, and New Zealand First has nine, according to the Electoral Commission. That result, however, could shift as 384,072 special votes - 15 percent of the total cast - remain to be counted. Both National and the Labour-Green bloc will now attempt to woo Peters to form a government.

"It's been very similar leading into it, the reality is all the stuff we had written about the election outcome - that you wouldn't have a result on the night, that Winston would be the kingmaker - has come to fruition," said David Price, broker at Forsyth Barr. "It's not any surprise whatsoever. You've still got 15 percent of the total vote to be counted, it's just a holding pattern until then."

A2 Milk led the index, rising 3 percent to $6.17. The stock has soared 181 percent this year, making it the best performer on the index, and benefitted today from a weaker kiwi dollar, Price said.

SkyCity rose 3 percent to $3.80, Fletcher Building gained 2.7 percent to $8 and New Zealand Refining rose 2 percent to $2.52.

Fonterra Shareholders Fund units gained 1.6 percent to $6.20. Fonterra Cooperative Group's full year results saw gross margin drop about 4 percentage points as the dairy company paid more for milk, while rising prices offset a decline in volumes. The changing mix didn't alter Fonterra's forecast payout.

Z Energy rose 1.8 percent to $7.53. The company announced the first parcel of jet fuel will be pumped to Auckland International Airport later today now the refinery to Auckland pipeline is back up and running and it does not expect to change its full-year guidance after the disruption. Auckland Airport shares gained 1.2 percent to $6.49.

Air New Zealand, which has also said it doesn't expect annual earnings to be impacted by the fuel disruption, dropped 0.3 percent to $3.27.

Chorus was the worst performer after shedding its rights to a 12.5 cents per share final dividend, down 4.2 percent, or 17 cents, to $3.88.

Sky Network Television fell 1.1 percent to $2.67 and Ryman Healthcare dropped 0.8 percent to $9.13.

Outside the benchmark index, Abano Healthcare dipped 0.2 percent to $9.25. Chief executive Richard Keys told shareholders at today's annual meeting that the healthcare investor has completed three acquisitions in the first quarter, which are expected to generate $5.5 million of annual gross revenue. Same-store sales were mixed in the quarter.

(BusinessDesk)

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