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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares end November higher

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares end November higher in heavy month-end trading

By Paul McBeth

Nov. 30 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose for a fourth day in heavier-than-usual trading as major institutional investors reallocated their portfolios, pushing up heavyweight stocks including Spark New Zealand and Meridian Energy.

The S&P/NZX 50 index increased 28.66 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,823.54, marking a 0.8 percent gain in November. Within the index, 29 stocks rose, 17 fell and four were unchanged. Turnover was $299.2 million.

Trade Me was the best performer in November, up 25 percent in the month at $6.13. While the shares dipped 0.3 percent today, they've been buoyed by a potential $2.54 billion takeover by UK private equity firm Apax Partners. This week Australian media reported a rival suitor may emerge.

Fletcher Building shares fell the most in November, down 20 percent, after the construction firm warned annual earnings may be weaker as Australia's market slows. The stock was down 0.6 percent today at $4.76 on volumes of 2.8 million.

Nineteen companies traded on volumes of more than one million shares on month-end rebalancing, with Spark and Meridian moving on volumes of 10.7 million and 7.2 million respectively. Spark rose 1.4 percent to $4.23 and Meridian was up 1.7 percent at $3.305.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said the upcoming G20 leaders meeting, where US President Donald Trump will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, was top of mind for many investors.

"It's very important for sentiment in the short-term and the longer-term economic outlook," he said.

Freightways increased 2.9 percent to $7 on a volume of 5.1 million shares, compared to its daily average of 203,000.

Synlait Milk rose 4.9 percent to $9.19 on modest volumes, leading the index higher. In contrast, A2 Milk dropped 5.1 percent to $10.35 on above-average volumes of 2.3 million. The dairy companies are closely aligned with Synlait supplying A2, and the stocks often move together.

Growth stock Pushpay Holdings fell 2.7 percent to $3.30 on above-average volume of 3.2 million shares. Fellow software firm Gentrack fell 2.3 percent to $6, extending its decline for a second day after delivering a downbeat outlook for Europe and the UK.

Of companies with volumes of more than two million shares, Auckland International Airport gained 2.1 percent to $7.20, Ryman Healthcare increased 0.4 percent to $11.59 and Kiwi Property Group rose 0.4 percent to $1.385.

Vital Healthcare Property Trust was unchanged at $2.12. The healthcare real estate investor's external manager is facing a showdown with three institutional investors at its upcoming annual meeting over its management fees and contract terms.

Goodson said the resolutions put forward by Mint Asset Management, Accident Compensation Corp and ANZ New Zealand Investments are non-binding, and that a robust negotiation might be a better way to effect change.

Outside the benchmark, Pacific Edge fell 13 percent to 35 cents, matching the price paid in a placement raising $7 million.


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