New Zealand shares fell today, as Asian markets continued a downturn due to anxiety over global economic recovery. Xero led the day's decliners, while Fletcher Building and Summerset Group were among those to fall.
The NZX 50 Index fell 19.899 points, or 0.4 percent to 4,853.799. Within the Index 22 shares fell, 13 rose and 15 were unchanged. Turnover was $60.3 million, with light trading due to public holidays in Auckland and Australia.
Markets across Asia fell after stocks in the US closed lower last Friday. New Zealand is the first market to open after the weekend and felt the sting of nervous investors during early trading with the NZX 50 falling as much as 1 percent before paring the decline.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Index was down 2.1 percent in afternoon trading, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell about 2.1 percent and South Korea's KOSPI 200 Index was down 1.5 percent. The Australian market was closed today because of Australia Day.
"It's not the complete carnage that some people might expect," Andrew Bascand managing director at Harbour Asset Management said. "The markets have opened down, but there hasn't been the fallout."
Wellington-based accounting software company Xero led the day's decliners, sliding 4.3 percent to $40. Fellow tech stocks, which have seen big gains this year, also dropped as investors took the opportunity to take profit. Security-software company Wynyard Group sank 6.7 percent to $2.65, and SLI Systems, makers of retail website search engines, fell 3.5 percent to $2.50.
"It's most likely profit taking. These stocks had a lot of news at the start of the year," Bascand said. "It's been buying that's been news driven."
Retirement village operator Summerset fell 3.1 percent to $3.42. Auckland-based lines company Vector slid 2.7 percent to $2.51 and New Zealand's biggest listed company, Fletcher Building, slipped 0.3 percent to $8.85.
Gold miner OceanaGold was the biggest gainer, rising 1.4 percent to $2.25. Gold has been a beneficiary of the risk-averse market.
Among the day's gainers was national carrier Air New Zealand, up 1.2 percent to $1.74. Sky Network Television rose 1.2 percent to $5.89, Auckland International Airport, up 0.8 percent to $3.66, and makers of breathing masks and respirators Fisher & Paykel Healthcare advanced 0.7 percent to $4.07.
Telecom was unchanged at $2.365, as was Wellington-based infrastructure investor Infratil at $2.24.