New Zealand shares rose as investors turned to equities in search of growth on optimism local companies will benefit from a reviving economy.
The NZX 50 Index gained 49.517 points, or 1 percent, to 4,864.391. Within the index, 33 stocks rose, 10 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $109 million.
"Investors are purely chasing growth," said Grant Williamson, a director at brokerage Hamilton Hindin Greene. "They have read and seen and heard about the economic outlook for 2014 and it's given investors a lot of confidence. Investors are looking for capital growth rather than dividend income and that is what is pushing this market at the moment."
Wynyard Group is the second-best performer on the broader All Ordinaries index today, advancing 9.8 percent to a record close of $1.90. The stock has soared 64 percent this week after the intelligence software developer announced another deal in the Middle East, where its anti-money laundering software will be used by the GCC Exchange. The value of the contract wasn't disclosed, but it adds to a pipeline of deals announced since November.
Milford Asset Management, which holds the stock, this week said the shares could climb to $2 apiece this year as investors factor in the company's growth prospects.
"It does appear that investors are hunting for growth stocks in 2014 and the IT and software sector is one area they are concentrating on," said Hamilton Hindin Greene's Williamson. "Investors are getting quite excited about the prospects for Wynyard. It does appear to be retail investors buying into the stock."
Xero, the accounting software specialist favoured as a growth stock in 2013, advanced a further 1.8 percent to close at a record $39.95.
Still, other technology stocks edged lower with SLI Systems down 2 percent to $1.95 and Diligent Board Member Services dropping 1.3 percent to $4.56.
"There is still good interest in all of the stocks but some have probably run a little bit hard and investors will want to be a little bit cautious about pushing Wynyard too much higher as well after having such a spectacular few days," Williamson said.
Meanwhile, retirement village operator and developer Ryman Healthcare gained 2.4 percent to close at a record $8.12, following a 71 percent gain the past year on optimism about prospects for the company in an aging population.
"Ryman is considered to be a growth stock and that is what investors are looking for," Williamson said.
Fletcher Building advanced 2.8 percent to $8.85 after a Housing Industry Association report showed Australia's new home sales hit a two-and-a-half year high in November, boding well for residential construction activity in 2014.
"The ducks do seem to be starting to line up for Fletcher Building at the moment with investors starting to get back in that stock after a month or two of weakness in that share price, it has turned around today," Williamson said. "Most investors are thinking the construction and building sector should have a pretty good year in 2014 with a shortage in housing and the Christchurch rebuild."
The Fonterra Shareholders' Fund was the second-worst performer on the benchmark index, down 1.7 percent to $5.66 as investors reduce their holdings after French food company Danone said yesterday it was taking Fonterra to court to recover costs associated with last year's recall of whey protein concentrate.
"Investors are not liking that uncertainty so they are just lightening the load on the Fonterra shares at the moment," Williamson said, adding he didn't expect the units to weaken much further from current levels.