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MARKET CLOSE: Shares fall Fletcher and Air NZ drop, Warehouse, MRP go ex-div

New Zealand stocks fell as a drop in Chinese exports and producer prices weighed on equity markets across the Asia Pacific region. Fletcher Building and Air New Zealand paced the decline, and Warehouse Group, MightyRiverPower and Heartland New Zealand shed their dividends.

The NZX 50 Index fell 7.817 points, or about 0.2 percent, from a record to 5117.835. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 16 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $102.4 million.

China's exports tumbled 18 percent in February from a year earlier, while producer prices sank 2 percent, stoking concern demand may falter in the region's biggest economy. In afternoon trade Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell 1 percent, Hong Kong's Heng Seng Index dropped 1.4 percent and Australia's ASX 200 Index slipped 0.9 percent.

"Both Australian and Asian indexes are around about 1 percent lower, and we're seeing a little bit of selling from investors in those markets leaking into our market," said Bryon Burke head of equities at Craigs Investment Partners. "Most of our stocks have been on a bit of high after last week."

The benchmark 50 gained 3 percent last week, to a record close of 5125.652 on Friday.

Fletcher, New Zealand's biggest listed company, slipped 0.4 percent to $9.86, while Air New Zealand slipped 1.8 percent to $1.865. Contact Energy, the electricity generator and provider, fell 1.7 percent to $5.21.

Further weighing on the benchmark index was a handful of stocks shedding rights to their interim dividends.

Warehouse was the day's worst performer, dropping 4.9 percent to $3.27 after shedding its 13 cent interim payment. Government-controlled MightyRiverPower slipped 2.4 percent to $2.015, Argosy Property Limited declined 2.1 percent to 91.5 cents and Heartland fell 1.1 percent to 89 cents.

Outdoor-goods retailer Kathmandu Holdings led the day's gainers climbing 2.5 percent to $3.68. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International was up 2.3 percent to $1.34.

Auckland International Airport rose 0.3 percent to $3.87, and Xero gained 0.4 percent to $44.98. Telecom declined 0.2 at $2.455.

Outside the benchmark index, Wellington Drive Technologies plunged 28 percent to 13 cents after saying it will raise $5 million selling mandatory convertible notes to shareholders to fund growth aspirations.

Wynyard Group rose 0.7 percent $2.88. The advanced crime analytics software company announced a three-year deal with stock market operator NZX for its investigative case management solution.

Allied Farmers climbed 14 percent to 5.6 cents. Last week it was reported Ron Brierley had acquired 2.87 percent and was the fifth largest investor in the Hawera-based company.

SeaDragon rose 5.3 percent to 2 cents. Australasia's largest fish-oil refiner announced a new raw material supply agreement of shark livers and shark liver oil used in its squalene manufacturing operations.

PGG Wrightson, the agricultural services company, slipped 5.5 percent to $2.88 as it shed rights to its 2 cents per share interim dividend, which will be paid out on April 2.

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries was unchanged at $2.37. The fruit grower and cool store operator said it has a conditional sale agreement with Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage to sell back its 20 percent stake in the company for $3.2 million, which Seeka will use to repay debt.

(BusinessDesk)

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