New Zealand stocks fell today, joining a global sell-off as disappointing Chinese manufacturing data stoked concerns the global economic recovery may falter. Xero, Chorus and SkyCity Entertainment Group led the decline.
The NZX 50 Index fell 25.081 points, or 0.5 percent to 4849.502. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 19 rose and eight were unchanged. Total turnover for the day was $77.9 million.
Across the region, the Lunar New Year saw the Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese markets closed. Those markets that were open were spooked by Chinese figures showing jobs and export orders shrinking. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index was down about 1.4 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped about 0.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi 200 Index slid about 1 percent.
"As strong as the New Zealand market has been we can't shrug off the Asian markets, we can't outperform them," Bryon Burke, head of equities at Craigs Investment Partners said.
Wellington-based cloud accounting software company Xero led the index lower, down 4.8 percent to $39.51, its lowest in three weeks. Telecommunications network operator Chorus fell 2.9 percent to $1.36, while casino and hotel group SkyCity declined 1.8 percent to $3.80.
New Zealand's biggest listed company Fletcher Building fell 1.3 percent to $8.96. Telecom was down 0.2 percent to $2.345 and Auckland International Airport dropped 0.5 percent to $3.63. Sky Network Television slipped 0.2 percent to $5.77.
NZX, the stock market operator, was the Index's biggest gainer, lifting 1.6 percent to $1.28. The company announced US investors are now able to buy dairy futures directly, a signal of more growth in its dairy derivatives market.
Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International rose 1.5 percent to $1.38 and partially-privatised energy company MightyRiverPower, up 1.5 percent to $1.985. Meridian Energy was up 0.5 percent to $1.01.
The market entered February slightly off the boil and on relatively thin volume, making more stable, higher yield stocks, such as the property sector look attractive to investors.
"To a certain degree property stocks have been under-performing a bit, people have focused on growth stocks," Burke said. "In times when the market is coming off, the yield stocks are seen as a safer way to invest, growth stocks are volatile, sentimental driven stocks."
Kiwi Income Property led the real estate rally, rising 1.4 percent to $1.12. Property for Industry gained 0.4 percent to $1.27, while Precinct Properties New Zealand also lifted 1 percent to 99.5 cents. DNZ Property Fund was up 0.7 percent to $1.53, joined by Argosy Property up 0.6 percent to 91.5 cents.
Outside of the benchmark index, growth stocks were also depressed. Security software makers Wynyard Group was down 4.3 percent to $2.68. Retail search engine firm SLI Systems slipped 3.7 percent to $2.59, while task-managing app company GeoOp declined 2.9 percent to $2.67.