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MARKET CLOSE: Shares gain on global rally; Diligent, Pacific Edge lead gains

New Zealand stocks joined a global rally as US company earnings growth lifted sentiment for equity markets. Diligent Board Member Services led the benchmark index higher after reporting first-quarter sales growth. Pacific Edge and Skellerup Holdings paced gains.

The NZX 50 Index rose 14.264 points, or about 0.3 percent, to 5090.549. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, nine fell and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was $117.5 million.

Wall Street rose for a second day after Coca Cola Co posted 2 percent growth in global sales, while the world's biggest health-care products maker, Johnson & Johnson, said first quarter profit rose 34 percent. Signs of corporate earnings growth helped extend a rally into Asia, where Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 2.5 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Send lifted 0.3 percent.

Diligent climbed 9.9 percent to $4.45 after the governance app maker posted quarterly figures which showed better growth didn't slow as much as feared in the US market.

Pacific Edge, the Dunedin-based biotech company, rose 7.5 percent to $1.15 while Skellerup, the industrial rubber goods maker, advanced 2.9 percent to $1.75.

The Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson results are "flowing through and restoring confidence" in equities, said Robert Garden, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "Investors are really wanting fundamental figures to come through from individual stocks and economic reports from various places around the globe to justify where share prices have run too."

New Zealand tech stocks were caught up in a global sell off over the past month as investors questioned the ability of companies to deliver the profits implied in their high valuations. Big movements in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index on Wall Street have echoed through the local stock market.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, fell for the fifth consecutive day, down 1.4 percent to $2.45.

"Out of all of the tech stocks, Xero is the one that's struggling to have a bit of a bounce," Garden said. "In terms of valuation it may have the most to come off."

"The difficult part is putting the correct valuation on them," he said, referring to the tech sector.

Tech stocks outside the benchmark index rose. SLI Systems, the search engine developer, advanced 3.1 percent to $1.97. Security software firm Wynyard Group climbed 3 percent to $2.40 while GeoOp, the small business task management app maker, gained 4.8 percent to $1.32.

Energy stocks were mixed before Genesis Energy, the last company in the government's partial privatisation programme, begins trading on the NZX tomorrow. The sale was scaled back, meaning investors didn't get all the stock they were after.

MightyRiverPower advanced 1.2 percent to $2.185. Contact Energy climbed 0.6 percent to $5.50, while Meridian Energy fell 0.4 percent to $1.155. Auckland lines company Vector fell 1.2 percent to $2.45.

"The market is looking forward to Genesis tomorrow, including myself," Garden said. "There may be some that are frustrated with what they've got and make the decision they're going to top up or exit if the price opens up at attractive levels."

Telecom slipped 0.6 percent to $2.65. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose1.2 percent to $9.71 and Auckland International Airport advanced 0.3 percent to $3.94.

(BusinessDesk)