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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall on GDP

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall on GDP, Auckland Airport down

Dec. 23 – New Zealand shares fell after government figures showed the recession extended into the third quarter and Auckland International Airport reported a drop in passenger volumes.

The NZX 50 Index declined 18.01, or 0.7%, to 2661.74. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 12 rose and 15 were unchanged. Auckland Airport fell 2.4% to NZ$1.60 after the nation’s busiest airport reported a drop in international and domestic passengers. Air New Zealand fell 4.5% to 85 cents.

Government figures show the economy shrank 0.4% in the third quarter and economists including Goldman Sachs JBWere’s Shamubeel Eaqub say the first recession since 1998 may roll into 2009 as well.

Metlifecare Ltd., an operator of rest homes, fell 6.7% to NZ$2.80 after suspending its dividends and announcing plans to raise as much as NZ$40 million selling shares as the weakening economy weighs on the property market. The stock trades infrequently and is down 60% this year.

Cavalier Corp., the only carpet maker left in the NZX 50, fell 5.6% to NZ$1.70. Last week the company announced an agreement to rationalize the nation’s wool scouring industry, buying assets from rival Godfrey Hirst through a tie-up with interests associated with David Ferrier.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s biggest construction firm, fell 2% to NZ$5.97 after the GDP report, which highlighted a drop in residential building.

Sanford Ltd., one of only two companies to gain on the NZX 50 this year, fell 3.1% to NZ$5. New Zealand Oil & Gas, the other gainer this year, fell 0.8% to NZ$1.24 after saying it had ceased buying shares of Pan Pacific Petroleum after reaching a 15% stake, the threshold allowed by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board. It has sought approval from the FIRB to increase its stake but doesn’t immediately plan to.

NZOG also dipped as the price of crude oil held below US$40 a barrel.

In Australia today, the S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.2% to 3514.9 in late afternoon trading. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank fell 7% after the sale of A$175 million of shares to increase its capital. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose 1.6% to 8723.78 in early afternoon trading.



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