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MARKET CLOSE New Zealand: shares halt slide, as earnings loom; OceanaGold, Diligent gain

 New Zealand shares rose today, as Asian markets lifted with positive earnings news and investors anticipated local earnings season to commence. OceanaGold, Diligent Board Members Services and Chorus all led the index higher.

The NZX 50 index gained 5.234 points, or 0.1 percent to 4807.943. Within the index 18 stocks rose, 23 declined and nine were unchanged. Total earnings for the day were $133.2 million.

Asian markets snapped a two-day decline, with major Japanese companies posting positive news. Toyota Motor Corp, the world's biggest car manufacturer forecast a record profit, while consumer-electronics maker Panasonic's third-quarter profits beat expectations. Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent in afternoon trade, while South Korea's KOPSI 200 index rose 0.3 percent.

New Zealand earnings season gets into full swing next week, with Skycity Entertainment Group releasing earnings next Wednesday. Fletcher Building, Auckland International Airport and Telecom release their earnings the following week.

"We've got earnings season to come, that starts in earnest in the coming days, and is a nice little signal of where it's going," James Lindsay, portfolio manager at Tyndall Investment Management said. "Although I'm not sure whether retail investors pay much attention to it."

Melbourne-based gold miner OceanaGold led the index higher, gaining 4.1 percent to $2.29. It was paced by governance software developer Diligent Board Member Services, up 3.9 percent to $4.50 and power company Contact Energy which rose 2.9 percent to $5.25.

Wellington-based accounting software developer Xero climbed 2.5 percent to $38.75. New Zealand's biggest listed company Fletcher Building rose 0.2 percent to $8.98. Auckland International Airport was unchanged at $3.55.

Telecommunications network operator Chorus gained 2.2 percent to $1.38. Today credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's said the company remains on a negative credit watch, but did not downgrade its BBB rating.

Telecom dropped 0.6 percent to $2.32. The biggest phone company is ending its decade-long bundling agreement with Sky Network Television this May, which may lead to rival telco Vodafone, which still sells Sky TV bundles, snatching some of its customers. Sky TV gained 0.2 percent to $5.75.

Investment company Guinness Peat Group, which is cash rich but tied up in an on-going stoush with the UK pension regulator, slid 0.8 percent to 66.5 cents.

Tyndall's Lindsay said the significant volume going through is indicative of continuing offshore investors buying the company's shares.

Trade Me Group, the online auction site, extended this week's decline, down 1.7 percent to $3.96. Retailers followed suit, as the country's biggest listed retailer Warehouse Group slid 0.9 percent to $3.50. Clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson slipped 0.3 percent to $3.09, as did outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu Holdings, down 0.3 percent to $3.13.

Meridian Energy, the government controlled energy company, was the day's worst performer, down 2 percent to 99 cents. Fellow partially privatised electricity provider MightyRiverPower also declined 1 percent to $1.98.

(BusinessDesk)

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