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MARKET CLOSE New Zealand: shares slid, as earnings season nerves kick-in, Hallenstein, SkyCity down

New Zealand stocks fell, paced by SkyCity Entertainment Group, amid speculation the impending earnings season may show the impact of a high kiwi dollar. Hallenstein Glasson Holdings led the index lower after figures showed weak clothing sales.

The NZX 50 Index fell 7.730 points, or about 0.2 percent to 4833.058. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 12 rose and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $91.7 million.

Earnings season begins in earnest this week. SkyCity, which is due to report on Wednesday, fell 1.6 percent to $5.74. In December the company, which has casinos in Adelaide and Darwin, said first-half profit will fall due to the strong kiwi against the Australian dollar.

"What concerns investors really is the effect of the strong kiwi against the Aussie, which will start to impact on earnings," said James Smalley, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "But it will also be in the company's guidance going forward, the onus will be on companies that have significant Australian exposure to work with the strong kiwi."

Fletcher Building, which counts Australia as its No. 2 market, slipped 0.2 percent to $8.98, while Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International lost 1.4 percent to $1.38.

Companies are required to give forward guidance on how they expect their business to track over the next 12-months and investors monitor those forecasts closely, Smalley said.

"Investors are, I wouldn't say nervous, but are not buying ahead of the results. The general feeling is that there aren't going to be too many upside surprises, but investors will be looking for the next 12-month forecasts," Smalley said.

Paymark, which processes 75 percent of New Zealand's electronic transactions, said that while retail has gained, clothing does continue to lag. Clothing chain Hallenstein fell 4.9 percent to $2.90, its lowest price in more than four years.

Online auction website Trade Me Group slid 1.1 percent to $3.76 while outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu Holdings dropped 0.6 percent to $1.38. New Zealand's largest listed retailer, Warehouse Group, declined 0.3 percent to $3.45.

As the election draws closer investors also consider the potential for some companies to come under increased regulation, a particular concern for the energy market, Smalley said.

Auckland lines company Vector fell 4 percent to $2.38.Partially-privatised energy company MightyRiverPower declined 0.8 percent to $1.975, while Meridian Energy was unchanged at $1 as was Contact Energy at $5.25.

Auckland International Airport gained 0.8 percent to $3.69 and Air New Zealand rose 1.5 percent to $1.705. Telecom rose 2.2 percent to $2.375. Sky Network Television declined 0.5 percent to $5.74.

OceanaGold was the index's best performer on the day, gaining 3.8 percent to $2.45.

Outside of the NZX 50, Pacific Edge, which makes a non-invasive bladder cancer detection test, rose 4.9 percent to $1.72 and has soared 197 percent in the past 12 months. Today it announced a contract to sell its Cxbladder test through the nation's four largest District Health Boards.

Kirkcaldie & Stains rose 1.5 percent to $2 after the department store owner put its Wellington Harbour City Centre building up for sale.

(BusinessDesk)

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