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NZ shares mixed; Michael Hill up, ANZ falls

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Michael Hill up, ANZ falls

Feb. 5 – New Zealand shares were mixed, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group leading decliners on the NZX 50 Index, while Michael Hill International advanced.

The NZX 50 Index gained 4.877, or 0.2%, to 2773.495 in light trade before the Waitangi Day public holiday. Within the index, 18 stocks rose, 20 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was NZ$41.3 million.

Michael Hill rose 3.9% to 53 cents and has a discounted cash flow valuation of 82 cents, according to the Value cruncher online tool. Retailers with stores in Australia gained after the federal government yesterday announced a A$42 billion fiscal stimulus package that may help stoke consumer spending. Pumpkin Patch, which counts Australia as its biggest market, rose 1.1% to 93 cents.

The exception was clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, which fell 1.8% to NZ$2.16, its second daily decline after announcing first-half profit tumbled as much as 41% as sales fell and competition for sales shrank its margins.

Fishing company Sanford Ltd. rose 2.8% to NZ$5.55 and is little changed so far this year after being the biggest gainer on the NZX 50 in 2008. Mainfreight Ltd. rose 2.6% to NZ$4 and Telecom Corp. climbed 2.3% to NZ$2.70.

Figures today showed the unemployment rate jumped to a five-year high 4.6% in the fourth quarter, less than the 4.7% median estimate in a Reuters survey.

The New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association Survey of Business Conditions, released today, showed total sales in December 2008 increased 4% from the same month a year earlier. Staff numbers fell 0.7% in the month, while net confidence recovered to -73 from -82 in October.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.3% to 3428.6. Qantas Airways tumbled 18% to A$1.87 and Lend Lease dropped 16% to A$5.66 after the two companies sold new shares at a discount.

BHP Billiton rose 6% to A$31.62 and Rit Tinto climbed 7% to A$47.40, pacing a rally in mining companies after China announced tariff cuts on imports of raw materials and components.

Macquarie Group rose 5.5% to A$24.13 after Australia’s largest investment bank said annual profit will tumble 50%, the first time earnings have dropped in 17 years, on trading losses and a slump in investments. The prediction was better than some investors had expected.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index fell 1.3% to 7937.32.


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