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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain on cooling trade tension

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares extend gain as cooling trade tensions buoy Asian markets

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 3 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares were led higher by exporter A2 Milk as cooling trade tensions between China and the US allayed fears of slowing global growth and boosted stock markets across Asia.

The S&P/NZX 50 index gained 52.55 points, or 0.6 percent, to 8,876.09. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 24 fell and four were unchanged. Turnover was $96 million.

Stocks across Asia rose, with New Zealand the first market to open after Chinese and US presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump agreed to refrain from escalating their trade dispute and tried to find common ground. The gains were broad-based, including growth-orientated stocks, firms typically held for reliable dividends, and the largest and most actively traded companies.

"There was good strength generally across the market based on the progress seen out of China and the US trade negotiations," said James Lindsay, a portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management. "That's good news to see some progress."

Exporter A2 Milk rose 5.4 percent to $10.91 on slightly higher than average volumes after saying it will meet China's new cross-border e-commerce requirements affecting its sales of Platinum infant formula. Government officials extended the grace period to let foreign firms comply by March 31 next year.

Pushpay Holdings, which relies on North American markets, increased 0.6 percent to $3.32 on average volumes, although exporter Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 0.4 percent to $13.25 in light trading.

Courier and document management firm Freightways increased 2.3 percent on light volumes to $7.16.

Global logistics firm Mainfreight rose 1 percent to $30.60 in typically light trading, while national carrier Air New Zealand increased 0.7 percent to $3.10 on a quarter of its average volumes.

Spark New Zealand advanced 1.1 percent to a record close $4.275. It was the most traded stock with 2.5 million shares changing hands, below its 90-day average of 2.9 million. Meridian Energy slipped 0.2 percent to $3.30 on 1.8 million shares and Kiwi Property Group declined 1.8 percent to $1.36 on volume of 1.5 million shares.

Argosy Property rose 0.9 percent to $1.17 on bigger than normal volume of 1.1 million shares. Genesis Energy fell 2.2 percent to $2.505 on 1.1 million shares - more than three times its average volume.

Tourism Holdings rose 1.4 percent to $5 in light trading after negotiations for a potential sale of some New Zealand assets ended when the suitor unsuccessfully tried to get a lower price.

Z Energy fell 0.5 percent $5.72 on half its average volume after the government confirmed it will order the Commerce Commission to investigate the retail fuel market.

Gentrack Group fell 2.8 percent to $5.83 in light trading while Sky Network Television declined 2.1 percent to $2.30, also on smaller volumes than usual.

Outside the benchmark index, TIL Logistics was unchanged at $1.62 after acknowledging potential strike action at its petrol tanker unit.

Hallenstein Glasson fell 2.9 percent after the retailer said it faced tough trading conditions. Seventeen-week sales rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier, down from the 7.2 percent growth the firm reported after eight weeks.

PGG Wrightson dropped 3.5 percent to 55 cents after the Commerce Commission outlined competition concerns over the sale of its seeds unit to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.


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