New Zealand shares rose, pushing the NZX 50 Index back toward its five-year high, led by PGG Wrightson and NZ Oil & Gas as commodity prices rose and investors continued to be drawn to the relatively attractive dividend yields.
The NZX 50 gained 0.46 points, or 0.01 percent, to 4246.40, edging back to the five-year high 4252.65 reached on January 31. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 14 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $93 million.
The average dividend yield across the NZX 50 is about 7 percent, which compares favourably to two-year term deposit rates of about 4.3 percent.
The ANZ Commodity Price Index of resources New Zealand ships overseas rose 0.3 percent to a 10-month high in January, though in kiwi dollar terms prices fell.
"Low interest rates are having quite an effect. More and more people are moving funds from fixed deposits to equities," says Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Demand is also being fuelled by KiwiSaver funds.
Wrightson, the nation's biggest rural services company, rose 4.7 percent to 45 cents. Units of the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund climbed 1.4 percent to $7.18 and NZ Oil & Gas rose 2.7 percent to 95 cents.
Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, fell 2.2 percent to $9.19, having gained 12 percent so far this year.
The construction company is expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the rebuild of Christchurch from earthquake damage and its results later this month will be keenly watched.
"Investors are positioning themselves ahead of this month's earnings season," Mr Williamson says. With Fletcher, "the best is yet to come but the market got a little bit ahead of itself with that share price."
Steel & Tube, which sells steel building materials for the construction industry, rose 1.2 percent to $2.52.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 1.3 percent to $2.41. Among other manufacturers, Rakon climbed 2.8 percent to 37 cents and Nuplex Industries was unchanged at $3.32.
Air New Zealand rose 2.4 percent to $1.29 and Auckland International Airport gained 1.6 percent to $2.88.
Contact Energy, the biggest power company on the exchange, gained 1.2 percent to $5.26. Ryman Healthcare rose 1.1 percent to $4.68.
Seeka Kiwifruit Industries rose 5.3 percent to 5 cents, though on tiny volume, after Kiwifruit growers Satara Cooperative Group and EastPack said they will resume talks on merger plans shelved after the outbreak of the Psa vine bacteria two years ago.
Satara was unchanged at 40 cents.