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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares gain on growth outlook; Fletcher, Healthcare, Wynyard rise

New Zealand shares rose, pushing the NZX 50 Index to a two-month high, on optimism the market will extend a two-year rally in the face of stronger economic growth. Fletcher Building, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Wynyard Group paced the advance.

The NZX 50 rose 35.010 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4899.401, the highest since Nov. 19. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 18 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was about $99 million, returning to pre-Christmas levels as more market participants returned from their summer holidays.

Fletcher, the biggest company on the NZX 50, rose 1.7 percent to $9, the highest in a month.

"Today was the first real day back in the market - it is widely expected that the New Zealand economy will be strong this year," said Matthew Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management.

"Fletcher building is the obvious beneficiary of the recovery - but the key headwind will be the strong kiwi dollar," he said. The Australian building industry is also picking up, which is positive for Fletcher.

F&P Healthcare gained 2.4 percent to $3.92, heading back toward the seven-year high reached in December. The maker of breathing masks and respirators has surged 60 percent in the past 12 months, three times the gains of the NZX 50.

Healthcare has received "a reasonable amount of favour" in the US, with its respirators and sleep apnea masks, Goodson said.

Wynyard, the security software firm, surged 16 percent to $2.20, adding to last week's 64 percent gain. The shares have almost doubled from the listing last July as the company spun off from Jade Software won customers. Today it affirmed 2013 sales met its target of $21.5 million.

The "darlings of the market", such as Wynyard continue to attract investors, Goodson said. "People seem happy to buy stories today in promise of earnings tomorrow."

Xero, the biggest gainer on the bourse last year, was unchanged today at $39.95. Diligent Board Member Services fell about 4 percent to $4.38.

Telecom rose 1.3 percent to $2.33 and Chorus gained 2.7 percent to $1.52. Auckland International Airport rose 1.1 percent to $3.60.

A2 Corp, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, fell 1.1 percent from a record high to 91 cents. The shares have been rallying as investors look for ways to gain exposure to dairy products. South Island dairy processor Synlait Milk rose 1.5 percent to $4.01 while Fonterra Shareholders' Fund, which carry the rights to dividends from the dairy giant's farmer-owned shares, fell 0.5 percent to $5.63.

"There is a general euphoria at the moment in dairy products," Goodson said.

Port of Tauranga, the nation's busiest export port, rose 3.4 percent to $14.20, the highest in almost four months, after announcing it has agreed to acquire a 14 hectare site south of Christchurch for a freight hub, expanding its reach in the South Island after buying half of Timaru's port last year.

(BusinessDesk)

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