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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares fall on NZD-AUD strength, Fletcher down; MSCI changes kick in

New Zealand shares fell as a kiwi dollar near five-year highs against the Australian dollar hurt companies such as Fletcher Building with Australian sales. SkyCity Entertainment Group was unchanged and Ryman Healthcare gained on heavy volume as MSCI changes kicked in.

The NZX 50 Index fell 23.128 points, or 0.5 percent, 4790.752. Within the index, 18 stocks fell, 22 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $813 million.

The kiwi dollar rose as high as 89.99 Australian cents in the past 24 hours, the highest in five years, reducing the value of revenue brought home from Australia and making the nation's products and services less competitive in that market.

Fletcher, the biggest company on the NZX 50, fell 1.4 percent to $9.19. Mainfreight fell 1.7 percent to $11.40. Ebos Group fell 2.6 percent to $9.

"On the day we've seen the impact of a high kiwi-Aussie cross," said Nigel Scott, a director at Craigs Investment Partners. "It is pretty hard to get Aussies to buy in here at these levels. That's reflected in Fletcher's price."

Ryman Healthcare, which last week posted record first-half earnings, rose 1.3 percent to $7.60, with 44.9 million shares changing hands. It enters the New Zealand contribution to the MSCI global standard indexes in place of SkyCity, which was unchanged at $3.78 as 74.9 million shares traded. SkyCity is being added to the MSCI small cap indexes.

Among other companies to join the MSCI small caps are Argosy Property, which was unchanged today at 94.5 cents as 16.7 million shares traded, Kathmandu rose 1.9 percent to $3.84, on 4.96 million shares, Metlifecare rose 3.6 percent to $4.55 on 2.8 million shares and MightyRiverPower rose 0.9 percent to $2.20 as 22.4 million shares changes hands.

Among other inclusions, Synlait Milk rose 1.3 percent to $3.90 and Z Energy rose 1.1 percent to $3.78.

Air New Zealand had a busy day, rising 2.5 percent to $1.62 with 7.8 million shares traded. That's a recovery since the government's selldown at $1.65 left some investors mismatched with stock.

Abano Healthcare rose 4.4 percent to $7.10 after the company released a valuation report from Grant Samuel which valued the company well above the proposed offer from a bidding group.

Tower rose 1.2 percent $1.72 after reporting a 38 percent decline in full-year profit. The company has shrunk itself by selling its other interests and plans to return $70 million.

Bathurst Resources was unchanged at 27 cents after saying first coal would flow from the Escarpment mine in late March or early April.

(BusinessDesk)