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MARKET CLOSE: NZX50 cracks 8,000, led by market darlings A2

MARKET CLOSE: NZX50 cracks 8,000, led by market darlings A2, Xero

By Sophie Boot

Oct. 9 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, with the benchmark index surpassing 8,000 for the first time, led higher by export-orientated, investor favourites A2 Milk Co and Xero.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 32.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8,010.28. Within the index, 23 stocks gained, 17 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $171.2 million.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the local market's strength came despite the official election results released on Saturday, which showed the incumbent National Party lose two seats while Labour and the Greens picked up one each, making the likely outcome of coalition negotiations with New Zealand First less clear-cut.

"You've arguably seen a bit of weakness in the currency as a result of the political uncertainty, although a big factor has been what's happening overseas driving other currencies up, but the sharemarket is showing few signs of political nervousness," Lister said. "People are waiting for a bit of clarity on policy change. There is definitely a few sectors which will be watching that with interest - people are thinking about what changes to migration could mean for some industries and other potential changes which could impact the housing market. It is a little on the quiet side, you're still in school holidays, but it really is stock-specific stories that continue to drive the market."

Stocks already riding positive sentiment extended their gains, Lister said. A2 Milk was once again the best performer, up 2.8 percent to a record $7.36, meaning the stock has now risen 236 percent in the year. Xero, which has gained 80 percent this year, advanced 2.1 percent to $32.16 today. Both stocks generate most of their revenue overseas and are beneficiaries of a weaker currency.

Genesis Energy was the worst performer, down 2.3 percent to $2.33, while Summerset Group Holdings fell 1.7 percent to $5.16.

Auckland International Airport dropped 0.7 percent to $6.205. It plans to sell up to $100 million of six-year bonds, replacing a note set to mature next week. A $100 million bond matures on Oct. 17, paying annual of 5.47 percent and is currently trading at a yield of 2.5 percent. The new offer is for $75 million with up to $25 million in oversubscriptions, maturing in April 2023. The airport also announced former Meridian Energy chief Mark Binns will join the board next year.

Fletcher Building rose 1.7 percent to $7.88. Research and brokerage First NZ Capital put out a note today saying the company could unlock as much as $100 million of operating earnings if it can return to the performance it produced in its core businesses before the 2008 financial crisis over the next three-to-four years.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International rose 3.4 percent to $1.22. The jewellery retailer lifted sales 7.8 percent in the first quarter as its performance in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada continued to improve, making up for a dip in US revenue.

Group sales from all stores rose to A$130.3 million in the three months to Sept. 30, from A$120.9 million in the same quarter in 2016. Same-store sales grew 3.5 percent to A$122.7 million in the three months.

New Zealand Oil & Gas gained 0.7 percent to 75 cents. OG Oil & Gas has sweetened its partial takeover bid for NZOG, winning over the Kiwi energy explorer's independent directors. The oil and gas division of Ofer Global Group will pay 78 cents per share to lift its NZOG stake to a maximum of 70 percent.

That's up from the 77 cents per share bid OGOG initially floated, and still trumps the 72 cents per share offer by rival Zeta Resources. The new OGOG bid won over NZOG's independent directors who unanimously recommend shareholders accept the revised offer.


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