MARKET CLOSE: Shares fall on concern National’s election chances dented, Meridian, MRP fall
New Zealand shares fell for a second day, with the NZX 50 Index extending is slide from a record. Energy stocks fell, paced by Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower and Contact Energy, on concern missteps by National ministers have dented the party's re-election prospects,
The benchmark index fell 25.356 points, or about 0.5 percent, to 5174.897. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 16 rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $147 million.
Prime Minister John Key has been forced to accept Maurice Williamson's resignation as a minister while opposition parties have called for the resignation of justice minister Judith Collins over her support for Oravida, an exporter to China that is linked to her husband and is a National Party donor.
Meridian fell 0.8 percent to $1.19. Contact declined 1.1 percent to $5.60 and MightyRiverPower dropped 1.3 percent to $2.28. Outside the benchmark index, Genesis Energy slipped 0.3 percent to $1.845.
A central election pledge of opposition parties is to establish a central buyer for electricity, effectively regulating prices, in a bid to push consumer electricity prices down. The policy dampened interest in the government's partial privatisation of MightyRiverPower, Meridian and Genesis.
"The energy companies do seem to move around a bit depending on people's feeling towards parties and how the election might shape out," said Chris Timms, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners, "Maurice Williamson and the on-going saga with Judith Collins - people are anticipating that will have an impact on people's voting."
Skellerup Holdings, the industrial rubber manufacturer, led the market lower, falling 4 percent to $ 1.68.
Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, fell 2.1 percent to $9.56. Nuplex Industries dropped 1.7 percent to $3.39 while Steel & Tube declined 2.3 percent to $3.00.
Telecom, the nation's largest telecommunication provider, fell 0.9 percent to $2.64. Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, slid 1.4 percent to $30.90.
The day's gainers were led by TrustPower, up 2.5 percent to $6.92. Pacific Edge, the Dunedin-based biotech company, rose 1.9 percent to $1.10 and Ebos Group, the drug, medical consumables and pet supplies distributor, climbed 1.5 percent to $9.35.
Auckland International Airport rose 0.5 percent to $4.11. Its Queenstown airport has been given approval to receive night flights.
Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest listed retailer, fell 0.6 percent to $3.38. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International dropped 0.8 percent to $1.32. Online auction site Trade Me Group declined 0.7 percent to $4.04.
Units in Fonterra Shareholders' Fund declined 0.3 percent to $6.03. The units give investors access to Fonterra Cooperative dividend stream. A2 Milk Company, the milk marketer, fell 1.3 percent to 78 cents. Outside the benchmark index, Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China's Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, slipped 0.5 percent to $3.78.