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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise on positive trans-Tasman sentiment, Fletcher Building, Kathmandu up

 New Zealand stocks snapped a three day slide after a jump in Australian employment figures while at home the central bank hiked rates to counter inflation in a strengthening economy. Fletcher Building, Kathmandu Holdings and SkyCity Entertainment Group paced gains.

The NZX 50 Index rose 15.454 points, or about 0.3 percent, to 5111.984. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 14 fell and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was $102.8 million.

Australian full-time payrolls were the highest in 22 years as employers added 80,500 workers in February. New Zealand's Reserve Bank lifted the official cash rate to 2.75 percent, the first increase since 2010, in what is the first step in a tightening cycle.

"Australia had a surprisingly strong monthly employment report," said Matthew Goodson, who helps manage $650 million of equities and property holdings for Salt Funds Management. "There's perhaps a little more hope for the Australian economy from those numbers today."

Fletcher, which counts Australia as its second-largest market, rose 2.1 percent to $9.73. Outdoor good retailer Kathmandu, which gets two thirds of sales in Australia, climbed 1.4 percent to $3.60, while SkyCity, which operates casinos in Adelaide and Darwin, advanced 0.5 percent to $3.94.

MightyRiverPower rose 0.5 percent to $2.035, Meridian Energy slipped 0.9 percent to 1.085 and Contact Energy advanced 1.1 percent to $5.31 as the government released details of its plans to sell shares in state-owned Genesis Energy listing ahead of an NZX listing slated for April 17.

Genesis is the last asset in the government's sale programme, following the float of 49 percent of MightyRiverPower and Meridian Energy, and the sell down of 20 per cent of the Crown's holding in Air New Zealand to 53 per cent.

"At a very quick glance Genesis appears to be in a range which gives it a reasonable chance of having some interest from the market," Goodson said.

"There is obviously political risk with these companies and so they will bounce around with poll outcomes to some extent," he said. "Secondly, the key issue for them all has been weak electricity demand for several years, and there are some very tentative signs that perhaps we're through the worst of it."

Auckland-based lines company Vector fell 0.4 percent to $2.47. Air New Zealand climbed 2.5 percent to $1.88.

New Zealand Oil and Gas rose 2.5 percent to 81 cents after advising there were additional development opportunities at the Kupe field, of which it has a 15 percent stake. Genesis holds 31 percent.

Pacific Edge, the bladder cancer test developer, rose 4.2 percent to $1.49. It will join the NZX 50 Index this month, replacing Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, which has been the bourse's worst performer this year. The retailer was unchanged at $3.09.

OceanaGold rose 3.2 to $2.91 leading the day's gainers. Chorus climbed 0.6 percent to $1.65. Auckland International Airport lifted 0.3 percent to $3.90.

New Zealand's largest telecommunications provider Telecom was unchanged at $2.45.

Xero sank 1.5 percent to $42.98 and was the worst performer on the benchmark index. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which gets almost 50 percent of sales in US dollars, fell 1.2 percent to $4.24 as the kiwi dollar gained. Port of Tauranga dropped 0.9 percent to $13.80 and online auction website Trade Me Group declined 0.8 percent to $3.72.

Outside the benchmark index, Wynyard Group was halted from trading for a capital raising. The intelligence software developer plans to raise $35 million through a placement and a share purchase plan to fund its global growth strategy. It last traded at $2.86.

(BusinessDesk)

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