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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares mixed; Telecom, Fletcher, Xero gain, Sky TV, SkyCity fall

New Zealand shares were mixed, with gains in Telecom, Xero and Fletcher Building enough to lift the NZX 50 Index, while more stocks fell, including Sky Network Television and SkyCity Entertainment Group.

The NZX 50 rose 8.6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4799.352. Within the index, 16 stocks rose, 21 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $186 million and followed record trading yesterday, that was led by stocks included in MSCI indexes.

Telecom rose 2.4 percent to $2.305 and Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, rose 0.3 percent to $9.22. Xero rose 3 percent to $34 and Air New Zealand gained 0.9 percent to $1.635, the highest since the government sold 20 percent of the airline last week at $1.65 apiece.

SkyCity fell 1.6 percent to $3.72 and was the most heavily traded stock by value, at $33.7 million. It was among companies added to the MSCI small cap New Zealand index yesterday.

"The market has still been getting a little bit of carry-over from the volumes yesterday, when the MSCI weightings kicked in," said James Smalley, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Sky TV fell 1.4 percent to $5.77, with $16.5 million of shares traded. John Hart, a director of the company, has sold 20,000 shares, leaving him with 5,000, according to a disclosure today.

Tourism Holdings, the campervan hire company, jumped 18 percent to $1, the highest close since March 2010 after telling shareholders at their annual meeting today that the benefit of last year's merger with United Campervans and KEA Campers, and a strong performance in the US would lift first-half pretax earnings by 15 percent, while it would return to a net profit of $2.5 million from a year-earlier loss of $500,000.

"Investors will be hoping this turnaround is sustained," Smalley said. "The stock's been a bit of a serial under-performer."

Vector was unchanged at $2.60 after its BBB+ credit rating was put on creditwatch negative after Standard & Poor's changed its methodology in rating industrial and utility companies, saying New Zealand's regulatory regime was less stable and a higher risk than other jurisdictions.

State-controlled MightyRiverPower fell 0.9 percent to $2.18 after it said its credit rating wouldn't be affected by the change in methodology. Contact Energy fell 1 percent to $4.89, while Meridian Energy slipped 0.5 percent to $1.015.

Among companies in the NZX 50 shedding rights to their dividend were TrustPower which fell 3 percent to $6.47, Infratil down 1.6 percent to $2.40. Clothing retail Hallenstein Glasson dropped 3.6 percent to $4.26 and Warehouse Group fell 1.3 percent to $3.74. Property investor DNZ Property Fund dropped 1.6 percent to $1.52.

Companies going ex-dividend not on the benchmark index were temporary labour firm AWF Group, which was unchanged at $2.90 and private healthcare investor Acurity Health Group which gained 1.6 percent to $5.20.

Units in the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 0.9 percent to $6.41 after Fonterra Cooperative Group held its annual meeting today, and affirmed its 2013 payout to farmer shareholders of $5.84 per kilogram of milksolids and a 32-cents-per-share-dividend. It also affirmed its forecast payout for the 2014 season $8.30 per kgMS and a 32 cents dividend.

Pharmacybrands, which has the Unichem, Amcal, Life Pharmacy, Radius and Care Chemist brands, rose 4.7 percent to $1.33 after its announcement yesterday that profit rose to $8.97 million in the six months ended Sept. 30, from $7.55 million a year earlier. Sales rose 3.6 percent to $127.9 million, based on a new accounting standard that saw it consolidate revenue from partly owned stores.

New Zealand Refining fell 2.6 percent to $2.24 after it said refining margins at the country's only refinery, at Marsden Point, have slumped to levels not seen since 2009, prompting a warning that borrowings will peak at up to $120 million more than originally expected to complete the major upgrade currently under way.

(BusinessDesk)