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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall in light trading

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall in light trading; power companies come off the boil

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 10 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell with the major electricity generator-retailers giving up some of their recent gains. Air New Zealand led the market lower.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 60.35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,142.58. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 19 rose, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $152.3 million.

The major power companies fell, having hit records in recent weeks as the attraction of a reliable dividend prompted investors to bid up the prices at a time when ultra-low interest rates deter investment in fixed interest assets.

Contact Energy fell 1.8 percent to $8.77, Genesis Energy was down 0.7 percent at $3.61, Meridian Energy declined 1.7 percent to $5.35 on a volume of 1.8 million shares, and Mercury NZ decreased 1 percent to $5.54 with 1.1 million shares changing hands.

"The electricity stocks took a bit of a hit today. You're really looking at the top 20 or so stocks that have come in for a reasonable amount of selling," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Globally-exposed companies also came under pressure today.

Air New Zealand led the market lower, down 3.5 percent at $2.76 on a volume of 1.3 million shares, more than its 90-day average of 728,000. A2 Milk fell 2 percent to $14.60 and Vista Group International was down 1.7 percent at $4.16. Auckland International Airport dipped 0.1 percent to $9.50 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare decreased 0.9 percent to $17.35.

Pushpay Holdings fell 0.9 percent to $3.32 on an unusually large volume of 4.4 million shares. It usually trades on a daily volume of 695,000.

Williamson said there was little domestic news to push the local market around, and investors took their cues from overseas leads with Wall Street flat overnight and Asian markets mixed. In recent months, the local market has attracted strong demand when Australia's market opened.

"We've outperformed most of those markets, but today we're underperforming to a degree. A lot of that is a lack of buying support which hasn't eventuated," he said.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 5.9 million shares, more than its 90-day average of 3.4 million. It fell 1.2 percent to $4.65.

Tourism Holdings rose 4.6 percent to a six-week high $4.12 on a volume of 160,000 shares, in line with its average of 153,000. Fletcher Building was up 3.1 percent at $4.97 on a volume of 1.6 million shares. Both companies are contending with underperforming units.

Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Goodman Property Trust was unchanged at $2.24, NZX rose 0.8 percent to $1.29, and Kiwi Property Group increased 0.3 percent to $1.685.

Argosy Property was down 1.3 percent or 2 cents, at $1.495, after shedding rights to a 1.57 cent dividend. PGG Wrightson fell 2.4 percent, or 6 cents, to $2.41, after giving up rights to a 7.5 cent dividend.

Outside the benchmark index, Cannasouth rose as high as 84 cents before sliding back to 54 cents. The stock ended down 28 percent on the day after the NZX issued a 'please explain' notice on why the stock price had soared 85 percent during the course of a week. The medicinal cannabis research firm said it complied with the listing rules. It traded on a volume of 2.9 million shares, the most since its listing in June.

Moa Group was unchanged 30.5 cents after saying it's agreed to buy Parnell restaurant Non Solo Pizza for $3.75 million. Of that, $3.2 million will be in cash, and will settle at the end of the month. The transaction has the blessing of Moa's bank.

The Local Government Funding Agency's 2024 bond paying annual interest of 2.25 percent was the most traded debt security on a volume of almost 1.8 million. The notes closed at a yield of 1.37 percent, up 13 basis points. The agency's 2025 bond paying 2.75 percent interest was fractionally behind on a volume of almost 1.8 million, closing at a yield of 1.42 percent, up 6 basis points.

(BusinessDesk)

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