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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise; Kathmandu hits record on sales, property trusts gain on Wheeler

 New Zealand stocks rose led by Kathmandu Holdings, which soared to a record after announcing strong sales. Argosy Property, Precinct Properties New Zealand and Kiwi Income Property Trust rose after a speech by the Reserve Bank governor cast doubt on the pace of interest rate rises.

The NZX 50 Index rose 14.229 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5189.126. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 14 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $146 million.

Kathmandu jumped 8.7 percent to a record $4.00 after the outdoor goods retailer said it had strong sales over Easter with its third quarter sales up 3.6 percent to $93 million. The retailer expected full year sales to increase 5.5 percent to $405 million.

"They've shown over the last few years that despite the weaker retail sector in some ways they manage to buck the trend to do very, very well," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "They've had a reasonably good start to the year and are confident of a strong performance."

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler today said the bank may sell New Zealand dollars to drive down an "overvalued" currency which is keeping tradeables inflation at bay and may slow the pace of interest rate hikes.

Argosy Property rose 0.5 percent to 84.5 cents. Kiwi Income climbed 0.4 percent to $1.165. Precinct Properties, which responded to a please explain note on recent share activity from the NZX by confirming it remained compliant with listing rules, advanced 1 percent to $1.65 and Property For Industry gained 0.4 percent to $1.315.

"What the Reserve Bank governor said in a speech today was basically the currency is too high and if it stays too high it'll make us rethink our view on interest rate rises," Lister said "Property stocks might be responding to that comment as they're high dividend payers and people buy them as a substitute for other sorts of high interest-bearing assets."

Retirement village operators rose. Ryman Healthcare advanced 2.8 percent to $8.90. Metlifecare climbed 1.4 percent to $4.28 and Summerset Group Holdings gained 1.2 percent to $3.52.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, was the day's worst performer, down 2.7 percent to $9.30. A Sydney-based Craigs' analyst downgraded the stock from a 'buy' to a 'hold' while in a presentation released to the NZX the construction company alluded to on-going difficulties in its Australian market.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, fell 1.8 percent to $30.64. Diligent Board Member Services, the governance app developer, dropped 1.4 percent to $4.27. Pacific Edge, the Dunedin-based biotech company, rose 0.9 percent to $1.11.

Contact Energy advanced 1.8 percent to $5.70. Meridian Energy rose 0.8 percent to $1.20 and MightyRiverPower was unchanged at $2.28. Outside the benchmark index, Genesis Energy was unchanged at $1.845.

(BusinessDesk)