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MARKET CLOSE: Xero cracks $5b value, Wynyard extends rally

New Zealand shares rose, led by Xero on optimism more investors will focus on the cloud-based accounting firm's growth potential. Wynyard Group, another high-growth tech company, surged to a new record.

The NZX 50 Index rose 35.070 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4814.874. Within the index, 21 stocks rose, 20 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $95 million.

Xero, the top-performing stock on the NZX 50 last year, gained 7.4 percent to $39.25, pushing its market capitalisation above $5 billion. The stock is up 13 percent this year.

"We expect a huge year for Xero," said James Schofield, a tech analyst at First NZ Capital. "We believe this global tech story will continue to gain awareness with global and especially US investors."

Wynyard jumped 17 percent to $1.73 and has surged 28 percent so far this month, extending gains after saying United Arab Emirates money exchange GCC Exchange will use its anti-money laundering software to enhance its ability to detect, investigate, and report suspicious activity.

A2 Corp, which markets milk with a health variant claimed to have health benefits, jumped 7.3 percent to 88 cents. Kathmandu, the outdoor clothing chain, rose 4.9 percent to $3.41.

Summerset Group, which yesterday posted 50 percent growth in fourth-quarter sales, rose 3.2 percent to $3.59. Retirement village rival Ryman Healthcare gained 1 percent to $7.93 and Metlifecare rose 0.7 percent to $4.29.

Fletcher Building, the biggest stock on the benchmark index, rose 2 percent to $8.61. Freightways, the courier and data management firm, rose 3 percent to $4.64. Port of Tauranga, New Zealand's busiest export port, climbed 1.9 percent to $13.75.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 1.7 percent to $5.76 after the world's biggest dairy exporter said it will "vigorously defend" a claim by French food processor Danone over last year's recall of whey protein concentrate. Negotiations for a commercial settlement failed and the French company is filing papers in the High Court in Auckland.

Sky Network Television, the nation's biggest pay-TV company, fell 2.3 percent to $5.93. SkyCity Entertainment Group dropped 1.1 percent to $3.73.

Telecom was unchanged at $2.315. Meridian Energy declined about 1 percent to $1.015 and MightyRiverPower dropped 0.5 percent to $2.08. Contact Energy was 0.2 percent weaker at $5.17.

Among smaller caps, Sealegs Corp soared 28 percent to 17.9 cents.

(BusinessDesk)