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MARKET CLOSE: NZ market follows Asia lower

MARKET CLOSE: NZ market follows Asia lower; Synlait, A2 lead decline

By Victoria Young

Aug. 5 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares followed offshore markets lower amid trade tensions between the US and China and as investors await another local interest rate cut this week.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 97.84 points, or 0.9 percent, to 10,766.03. Within the index, 28 stocks fell, 13 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was reasonable at almost $111 million, with defensive utility and property stocks dominating those trading on more than a million shares.

Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners, said all the Asian markets were weaker today.

As well as US President Donald Trump’s threat of increased tariffs against China, investors are also concerned at the potential for a snap election in the UK. Strikes and unrest in Hong Kong indicate ongoing tensions within China, he said.

“We are being led from the US. Investors are getting nervous and turnover is still relatively low,” he added.

The S&P/ASX 200 was down 1.8 percent in early afternoon trading. The Topix was down 2.1 percent, the Hang Seng was down 2.9 percent and the Straits Times Index was down 1.9 percent.

Synlait Milk and A2 Milk led the market lower today, down 3.7 percent and 3.3 percent respectively to $9.65 and $17.05. Volume in both was less than their average the past three months.

China is a key market for A2 and New Zealand's entire dairy industry. Synlait is a key supplier to A2. Treasury today said in a monthly update that New Zealand’s dairy sector should consider diversifying into other international markets to reduce its reliance on China.

McIntyre noted that A2 is a volatile stock. The company has recently received broker upgrades but there has been some profit-taking. Year to date, A2 is up 58 percent.

The leading gainers today were Auckland International Airport, up 2.1 percent at $9.55. The 1.5 million shares traded was a quarter more than usual the past three months.

Heartland Group rose 1.9 percent to $1.61. The 538,000 shares traded was also above the stock's daily average.

Goodman Property was the heaviest traded stock with 2.5 million shares changing hands. It was up 0.7 percent at $2.09.

McIntyre noted an expected interest rate cut would support the market in the latter half of the week. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s next monetary policy statement is expected on Wednesday. If the bank cuts as expected, those property firms would potentially go higher, he said.

Among stocks trading on more than a million shares, Kiwi Property rose 0.3 percent to $1.62, Precinct Properties NZ rose 0.3 percent to $1.785, and Arvida Group rose 0.7 percent to $1.37. Meridian Energy fell 1.1 percent to $4.77 and Spark New Zealand rose 0.1 percent to $1.77.

McIntyre noted little news on the mainboard, apart from Briscoes Group which posted a lift in first-half sales. The retailer noted net profit would be hit by a $1.2 million adjustment as a result of the way leases are treated in new accounting standards.

Shares in Briscoes rose 3.5 percent to $3.55.

(BusinessDesk)

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