Market close: Shares hit 4½-year high, paced by Nuplex, Fletcher, Warehouse

(BusinessDesk) New Zealand shares rose to a fresh 4½-year high as the prospect of continued low interest rates spurred investors to look to equities for better returns.

Nuplex Industries, Fletcher Building and Warehouse Group rose, while Auckland International Airport and Vector led decliners.

The NZX 50 Index rose 18.35 points, or 0.5%, to 3889.60, the highest since January 10, 2008. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 12 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $114 million.

"There seems to be buying interest across the board with retail and international," says Matthew Goodson, portfolio manager at BT Funds Management. "The lower interest rates are forcing people to search for better returns."

The gains were led by Nuplex Industries, the specialty chemicals maker, up 5.5% to $3.09. The stock has a dividend yield of 7.4%. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest construction company and with a dividend yield of 6%, increased 2.5% to $7.34.

Warehouse Group, the biggest retail on the NZX 50, climbed 2.4% to $3.02 and has a dividend yield of 10%. Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing retailer, rose 0.9% to $1.17, while Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, the clothing chain, increased 1.1% to $4.81.

Freightways, the courier and data management group, advanced 0.9% to $4.31.

The decline was led by Auckland International Airport, the country's biggest gateway, down about 3% to $2.60 after shedding its final dividend of 6.1 cents. Vector, the Auckland gas, electricity and telecommunications networks owner, fell 1.4% to $2.89.

NZX, the stock exchange regulator, rose 0.9% to $1.14 after it released figures showing the value of trading in NZX debt and equity markets rose 15% to $2.6 billion in September from a year earlier.

Shares in APN News & Media rose 18% to 53 cents, tracking a surge in the ASX-listed stock yesterday which sparked speculation the company had found a buyer for its New Zealand assets.

The media group, whose stable includes the New Zealand Herald newspaper, responded to media speculation regarding the strategic review of the company's New Zealand assets, saying it has "nothing to announce at this stage".

Xero, the cloud-based accounting service, fell 1.5% to $5.32. Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment retailer, slid 0.6% to $1.75.

NZ Refining, which runs the nation's only oil refinery, gained 4% to $2.89. Telecom rose 0.2% to $2.405.

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7850 0.0000 0.00%
AUD 0.8924 0.0000 0.00%
EUR 0.6196 0.0000 0.00%
GBP 0.4880 0.0000 0.00%
HKD 6.0917 0.0000 0.00%
JPY 84.8970 0.0000 0.00%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1231.3 2.700 2014-10-24T00:
Oil Brent 86.1 -0.700 2014-10-24T00:
Oil Nymex 81.0 -1.020 2014-10-24T00:
Silver Index 17.1 0.020 2014-10-24T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5292.8 5344.4 5292.8 0.77%
NASDAQ 4459.5 4486.3 4452.8 0.69%
DAX 9008.6 9044.9 9047.3 -0.66%
DJI 16677.0 16811.7 16677.9 0.76%
FTSE 6419.1 6419.1 6419.1 -0.47%
HKSE 23311.9 23352.6 23333.2 -0.13%
NI225 15354.4 15377.0 15139.0 1.01%