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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise, buoyed by international interest

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, buoyed by international interest; Synlait, Comvita gain; Sky TV drops

By Sophie Boot

Oct. 18 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose as interest from international investors pushed the benchmark higher for another day, with Synlait Milk and Comvita advancing while Sky Network Television gave up gains.

The S&P/NZX50 increased 2.97 points, or 0.04 percent, to 8,115.02. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $147 million.

"It's our 11th consecutive up day, and our 10th consecutive month, pushed upwards by continuing flows from offshore investors," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management. "You often see a few names come off in the mornings, and then go for aggressive runs in the afternoon."

Synlait Milk led the index, up 2.1 percent to $7.78, a fresh record. The stock has gained 145 percent this year, tracking A2 Milk, the marketer which it supplies, which has seen rapid sales growth. A2 dipped 0.6 percent to $7.85 today, and is up 271 percent this year.

"They're certainly caught up in that thematic from A2, but they don't have the leverage that the brand owner does, and one wonders who's been buying at these levels given that fact," Goodson said.

Comvita rose 1.5 percent to $7.59. The Te Puke-based company raised its 2018 earnings outlook after a solid recovery of the so-called "grey channel" into China and significant North American sales, chief executive Scott Coulter said in a presentation at the annual meeting. It now has "confidence in a profit greater than $17.1 million," the figure it gave earlier this year. It reiterated an expectation to resume dividend payments in the current financial year.

Freightways gained 1.3 percent to $7.60 and Infratil rose 1.3 percent to $3.18.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.3 percent to $33.35. Former Prime Minister John Key will take over as chair of ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country's biggest bank, next year in his second high-profile directorship. Air New Zealand, Key's other directorship, fell 0.3 percent to $3.43.

Sky Network Television was the worst performer, down 4.8 percent to $2.80. Goodson said the stock was giving back some recent gains ahead of its annual meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Mercury NZ dipped 0.1 percent to $3.445. The electricity generator-retailer, formerly known as MightyRiverPower, raised annual earnings guidance as the spell of wet weather boosted generation at its North Island hydro plants. Goodson said the lift had been expected by the market.

(BusinessDesk)

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