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MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 extends gain, Kathmandu, Fletcher rise on positive economic sentiment

The NZX 50 Index closed at a new record high, as investors were attracted to the New Zealand story of strong economic optimism and stable growth. Kathmandu Holdings led the index higher, paced by Fletcher Building.

The benchmark index climbed 10.856 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5125.652. Within the index, 20 stocks rose, 17 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $166.8 million.

The benchmark index broke through 5,000 points on Monday and closed on record highs throughout the week, spurred by good domestic economic data showing trade and commodity prices making strong gains. Outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu led gainers, up 4.7 percent to $3.59. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 1 percent to $9.90.

"Clearly economic optimism is a reason for investors to look here," said Andrew Bascand, who helps manage about $1 billion in equities for Harbour Asset Management. "Globally, emerging markets are still a little bit tainted and therefore companies in New Zealand are looking attractive from an investment perspective."

Network service provider Chorus rose 1.6 percent to $1.55. Clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson climbed 1.6 percent to $3.18 and Steel & Tube Holdings gained 1.3 percent to $3.14.

Warehouse Group declined 4.7 percent to $3.44. New Zealand's biggest listed retailer was the benchmark index's worst performer as shares resumed trading following a discounted stock offering to institutional investor to raise $100 million for a planned expansion into financial services.

"I don't think anyone really understands the strategy," Bascand said.

Fonterra Shareholders Fund, which gives investors exposure to the dairy cooperative, rose 0.5 percent to $5.96. Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest dairy exporter, lifted its forecast for this season's local milk supply.

"Compared to the volatility we've seen in the Fonterra share price it hasn't really moved that much," Bascand said. "Whenever they increase their payout ratio there are questions whether they can hold onto their margin."

Tech stocks continued to be in favour, Xero, New Zealand second largest listed company, rose 0.7 percent to a record $44.79. Software as a service company SLI Systems rose 3.1 percent to $2.63 and security software specialists Wynyard Group rose 2.1 percent to $2.86.

"We've seen a big sea change in investors' expectations for penetration of these tech companies in terms of revenue growth," Bascand said.

Auckland International Airport fell 0.3 percent to $3.86, Air New Zealand slipped 0.8 percent to $1.90 and SkyCity Entertainment Group declined 1.3 percent to $3.90. Telecom dropped 0.2 percent to $2.46.

Summerset Group Holdings, the retirement village operator and developer, fell 0.6 percent to $3.46 after shedding rights to its 3.25 cents per share final dividend on March 24. Sky Network Television, New Zealand's biggest pay-TV provider, slipped 1.1 percent to $6.33, as it shed rights to its 14 cents per share interim dividend on March 17.

Outside the benchmark index, dual-listed Goodman Fielder rose 1.5 percent to 68 cents, and on the ASX was up 0.8 percent to 63 Australian cents. The food and beverage distributor shed rights to its 1 Australian cent per share interim dividend on April 10.

(BusinessDesk)

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