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MARKET CLOSE: Stocks mixed; A2 Milk gains on China licence, Diligent drops

New Zealand shares were mixed, with the NZX 50 Index edging higher while more stocks fell. A2 Milk Co rose after securing a licence to export infant formula to China, while other so-called growth companies Pacific Edge and Diligent Board Member Services fell.

The NZX 50 rose 6.967 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5133.866. Within the index, 16 stocks rose, 22 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $85.5 million.

A2 Milk jumped 6.6 percent from a 15-month low to 65 cents after announcing it got Chinese regulatory approval to export its a2 Platinum infant formula, three months after that country tightened rules to ban unregistered imports of infant formula. Synlait Milk, which manufactures product for A2 and is still awaiting Chinese registration, fell 1.5 percent to $3.25. Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 0.3 percent to $5.99.

"It's very good news - it really does confirm A2 are able to export into that market, which is probably the largest market for baby formula market in the world," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Pacific Edge was the day's worst performer falling 2.9 percent to 66 cents. Diligent Board Members Services declined 2.7 percent to $4.04.

"Companies that are in the higher risk category have been coming under a bit of pressure, particularly with the local market easing off somewhat," Williamson said. "Investors have been looking to de-risk their portfolios and take profits on some of the higher growth companies."

Some investors may also be distracted by the continuing pipeline of companies seeking to sell shares and list. Oceania Living, the retirement village operator owned by funds associated with Macquarie Group, is mulling a public listing, raising funds in a sector that's in the midst of a building boom aimed at capitalising on an aging population. Executives at Oceania didn't immediately return calls.

Listed retirement village rival Summerset Group Holdings fell 0.9 percent to $3.23. Ryman Healthcare declined 0.6 percent to $8.30 and Metlifecare retreated 0.2 percent to $2.035.

Chorus fell 0.3 percent to $1.67. The Commerce Commission said it will investigate a claim that the telecommunications network operator is attempting to sell services outside the current terms of regulation when they should still be captured by the Telecommunications Act.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 0.5 percent to $8.94. Telecom Corp, the nation's largest telecommunications provider, was unchanged at $2.845.

Outside the benchmark index, Moa Group, the unprofitable boutique beer maker, rose 9.5 percent to 46 cents after it said sales volumes rose 95 percent to 264,000 litres in the three months ended June 30 after moving to a more direct distribution structure in New Zealand, its largest market.

(BusinessDesk)

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