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Market close: Shares fall, led by Cavalier and Goodman Property, as Diligent climbs

New Zealand shares fell, led by carpet maker Cavalier, Kathmandu and Goodman Property Trust, after retail sales data underlined the weak state of the economy in the third quarter. Diligent Board Member Services led gainers after posting quarterly results.

The NZX 50 Index fell 14.99 points, or 0.4%, to 3955.56. Within the index, 29 stocks fell, 13 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $107 million.

Government figures showed the volume of retail sales fell 0.4%, seasonally adjusted, in the three months ended September 30, against a Reuters survey calling for a 0.5% gain.

That adds to the gloom from data last week showing the jobless rate unexpectedly jumped to 7.3%, suggesting the economy's pace is stumbling.

"There's been a lot of soft market indicators in the last couple of months and they built to a bit of a crescendo with those unemployment numbers," says Andrew Bascand, managing director at Harbour Asset Management.

Cavalier dropped 3.3% to $1.74 and Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment chain, fell 2.9% to $1.70.

Goodman Property dropped 2.8% to $1.03 after completing a placement of $60 million of new units as part of an $80 million equity-raising to help fund the $186.6 million buyout of an Auckland business park, Highbrook.

Mr Bascand says the impact of the placement had been muted because the key influence on New Zealand equities remained the fact there is "still a lot of money out there looking for a home".

Kiwi Income Property Trust fell 1.3% to $1.16 after reporting a 16% decline in pre-tax operating earnings in the first half as rental income fell, interest costs rose and it paid a performance fee to its manager.

Diligent gained 5% to $3.96 on news of a 145% increase in quarterly revenue to September 30 and a solid increase in margins as the company's corporate governance product begins to gain scale in key markets.

Among other retailers, jeweller Michael Hill International rose 0.8% to $1.22 and clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson Holdings was up 0.8% to $5.

Mr Bascand says the retail sales data did not dent retail stocks as much as feared because the biggest impact was on supermarket sales, which is unrepresented on the New Zealand sharemarket.

As much as $US1 billion a week in new funds is being channelled weekly to market-tracking funds globally.

New Zealand and Australia represented attractive opportunities for global investors, some of whom were only now learning about factors such as the local real interest rate environment and the underpinning effect of the Christchurch rebuild on the New Zealand economy, he says.

Fletcher Building, the biggest listed construction company, fell 0.9% to $7.34 and  Nuplex Industries dropped 1.4% to $2.90.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting service, fell 1.9% to $6.24. Chief executive Rod Drury says the company will press on with spending to lift sales, though this strategy "will increase losses in the immediate future".

Sales rose 119% to $17.3 million in the first half, while the ebitda loss widened to $5.5 million from $3.2 million.

(BusinessDesk)