BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand shares were mixed in trading today as investors prepare for a raft of annual meetings where company boards will offer insights into how their firms are trading and may downgrade their earnings forecasts as the local economic recovery slows.
The NZX 50 index fell 4.84 points, or 0.1%, to 3883.3. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 12 gained and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $82.8 million.
Company news has died down after the half-year and annual results last month and investors are preparing for a flood of annual meetings next week, including Contact Energy, Sky Network Television, Vector and SkyCity Entertainment.
"As we go into the AGM season, boards will be in a position to tell investors how the year has started," says Matthew Goodson, portfolio manager at BT Funds Management. "Given the economic news lately has been mixed" some earnings outlooks may be downgraded.
Courier and data management company Freightways fell 3.6% to $4.24, the biggest decline on the day.
Rural services firm PGG Wrightson dropped 2.7% to 36 cents after the two top executives of its majority shareholder, Agrium, resigned to pursue other opportunities.
Mining company OceanaGold was the biggest gainer on the day, up 4.2% to $4.20.
New Zealand Oil & Gas gained 1.8% to 86 cents, after the oil and gas exploration firm bought a 6.7% stake in a deepwater exploration permit of the Taranaki coast. The permit is the first granted over the deepwater extension in the Taranaki Basin and is operated by Texan energy firm Anadarko.
"It's quite a small stake, but if it's successful it could potentially be quite material, though it will be very expensive to drill," Mr Goodson says.
Fletcher Building, the biggest listed company, gained 1.1% to $7.24 after Australian employment figures beat expectations with more full-time jobs added than forecast. That helped quell fears about the slowing Australian economy, and lifted demand for the stock.
Telecom, the second-biggest listed company, fell 0.2% to $2.325.
Scott Technology rose 0.5% to $2.25 after lifting annual profit 22% to $6.1 million as revenue advanced 19% on strong demand from its mining sector. The company declared a final dividend of 5.5 cents per share, taking the annual payment to 8 cents.
Steel & Tube fell 1.8% to $2.18 a day after major shareholder Arrium sold out of the New Zealand steel products producer at $2.05 a share.