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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise, Fletcher, Steel and Tube gain on investors seeking recovery exposure

New Zealand stocks rose as investors sought exposure to New Zealand's economic growth, fuelled by a record high trade surplus for February and strong business confidence. Port of Tauranga, Fletcher Building and Steel & Tube paced the day's gainers.

The NZX 50 Index rose 1.645 points, or 0.03 percent, to 5126.533. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 20 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $115.9 million.

Fletcher, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 1.6 percent to $9.57. Steel & Tube climbed 1.4 percent to $3.00 and Port of Tauranga, New Zealand's largest export port, rose 0.8 percent, to close at $14.16.

"Anything that seems to be a wee bit exposed to the building cycle, Steel & Tube and Fletcher Building, is performing well," said Chris Timms, investment advisor with Craigs Investment Partners. "All the blue chips stocks are up."

However, Xero fell 5.6 percent to $41, a three week low. The cloud-based accounting software company has climbed 270 percent in the past 12 months. A2 Corp, which has gained 57 percent in the past year, slid 1.1 percent to 92 cents. Outside the benchmark index, Wynyard Group slipped 1.6 percent to $3.00. The security software firm has gained more than 170 percent since it listed last July.

"The growth stocks have had good runs, people have looked at the short term profit off them, and if there is a bit of weakness offshore they've thought, well maybe I better lock in some profit here," Timms said.

pacific

Freightways led the day's gainers up 2.6 percent to $4.82. Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International climbed 2.2 percent to $1.37 and Telecom rose 1.3 percent to $2.425.

Pacific Edge, the non-invasive bladder cancer test developer, fell 4.1 percent to $1.41. Two directors and the chief executive sold down their holdings this month, according to NZX data.

"Pacific Edge seems to be driven by the fact that people are a bit worried that some of the directors and key shareholders have been taking the opportunity to reduce their stakes," Timms said. "There would be people looking at the company and asking, 'why are these guys selling?'"

Meridian Energy instalment receipts closed at $1.125 after shedding rights to its 4.19 cents per share interim dividend. MightyRiverPower was unchanged at $2.180 and Contact Energy rose 0.6 percent to $5.26.

Outside the benchmark index, Methven fell 4.7 percent to $1.23 after the tap-maker and distributor cut its full-year earnings guidance for a second time, saying soft trading conditions it flagged in January have continued for longer than expected.

Synlait Milk also shed 7 percent to $3.71 after downgrading full year net profit forecasts by some $5 million to between $25 million and $30 million because of the strong New Zealand dollar and the fallout from Fonterra's whey protein contamination scare, which impacted on the Chinese infant formula market, where Synlait is targeting new brands.

(BusinessDesk)

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