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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise as energy stocks rise, MRP, Meridian, Genesis advance

New Zealand shares rose on speculation the incumbent National-led government will return for a third term. Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower, Contact Energy and Genesis Energy paced gains.

The NZX 50 Index rose 32.492 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5148.291. Within in the index, 28 stocks rose, 13 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $121.4 million.

Investors are growing increasingly confident the National-led government will return at this year's general election, supporting energy stocks which had been depressed by opposition party policies to overhaul New Zealand's electricity market.

Meridian climbed 1.7 percent to $1.20. Contact advanced 0.7 percent to $5.61. MRP rose 0.2 percent to $2.29. Outside the NZX50, Genesis gained 1.9 percent to $1.89, 22 percent above its initial offer price two weeks ago. Vector, the Auckland lines company, rose 0.4 percent to $2.51.

"The electricity sector appears to have done very well today," said Paul Valk, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "Whether that is a view that people see National looks more likely to get into power and not make any changes to the electricity sector."

Health stocks also gained. Biotech company Pacific Edge led the benchmark index higher, up 4.8 percent to $1.09. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare advanced 1 percent to $3.99 while Ebos Group, the pharmaceutical and healthcare products maker, climbed 3.7 percent to $9.30.

"Things are starting to look well valued - it's hard to find good investment spots at the moment and I think people are still looking for attractive dividend returns with some growth potential," as seen in the likes of the energy and health sector, Valk said.

The local tech sector underperformed the NZX50 today, with Xero, the cloud-based accounting software company, down 0.9 percent to $29.99, and Diligent Board Members Services, the governance app maker, falling 3.2 percent to $4.31.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, gained 0.9 percent to $9.85. Telecom, the nation's largest telecommunications provider, advanced 2.1 percent to $2.72. New Zealand's busiest gateway, Auckland International Airport, declined 0.5 percent to $3.89.

OceanaGold was the day's worst performer, sliding 3.7 percent to $2.64, ahead of its first-quarter earnings announcement.

Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest listed retailer, fell 2.1 percent to $3.28. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International fell 0.8 percent to $1.32 and online auction site Trade Me Group declined 0.5 to $3.88. Outdoor good retailer Kathmandu slipped 0.6 percent to $3.62.

(BusinessDesk)

More by Suze Metherell

Comments and questions
1

A few more policy announcements from Labour similar to today's economic release and the energy shares will go through the roof.