Market close: Shares fall as yield story runs out of puff, Telecom drops

BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand shares fell, led by Telecom, as investors looked for reasons to drive the market higher after offshore demand for dividend yields drove the NZX 50 Index to a five-year high this month.

The NZX 50 fell 32.48 points, or 0.8%, to 3951.29. Within the index, 29 stocks fell, 15 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was a lower-than-average $66 million.

Telecom sank 3.5% to $2.38. At today's price it has a dividend yield of 12.1%, almost triple the 4.32% on an average one-year term deposit, according to interest.co.nz.

Faced with interest rates near record lows, investors have turned to the equity market for better returns, sending money into the best-yielding stocks.

Goodman Property Trust, up 0.5% to $1.06, has a dividend yield of 8%. Precinct Properties NZ rose 1.5% to $1.035 and has a dividend yield of 6.59%.

Kiwi Income Property Trust, up 0.4% to $1.175 for a dividend yield of 7.47%.

Offshore money and the general increase from KiwiSaver have helped push the NZX 50 above 4000 for the first time since early January 2008.

"We had a fairly good run and the market needs something to kick it along," says David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr. "A lot of savers are being penalised with interest rates so low. What's driven the rally so hard has been yields."

Restaurant Brands rose 4.1%, leading the index higher. The company has a dividend yield of about 9.9%. Trade Me, the auction site that holds its annual meeting tomorrow, rose 1.6% to $4.45.

Among smaller caps, cashed-up department store operator Kirkcaldie & Stains soared 25% to $3.25 on speculation the company could return capital after selling a property worth more than its market capitalisation.

David Cushing, whose family owns almost 20% of the company, says the shares are worth even more.

Among the biggest stocks, Freightways fell 2.7% to $4.28, trimming this year's gain to about 20%. TrustPower fell about 2% to $8.55.

New Zealand Oil & Gas fell 1.7% to 85 cents. The company said today it farmed out a 25% stake in its Kaheru prospect off the South Taranaki coast to ASX-listed Beach Energy for $US3 million.

Fletcher Building fell 0.7% to $7.07 as the government unveiled a series of long-term measures to lift housing affordability including a review of supply-side construction costs.

Acurity Health Group was unchanged at $5.91 after it said chief executive Andrew Blair will step down as the head of the private hospital operator once-known as Wakefield Health after six years in the top job.

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7769 0.0072 0.94%
AUD 0.9505 0.0036 0.38%
EUR 0.6323 0.0084 1.35%
GBP 0.4958 0.0018 0.36%
HKD 6.0259 0.0559 0.94%
JPY 92.3800 0.9250 1.01%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1198.3 8.880 2014-12-18T00:
Oil Brent 61.2 -2.590 2014-12-17T00:
Oil Nymex 56.8 0.570 2014-12-17T00:
Silver Index 15.9 0.176 2014-12-17T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5518.5 5538.2 5518.5 0.27%
NASDAQ 4712.4 4748.4 4644.3 2.24%
DAX 9711.6 9811.1 9544.4 2.79%
DJI 17367.8 17778.4 17356.9 2.43%
FTSE 6336.5 6466.0 6336.5 2.04%
HKSE 22878.3 22935.0 22585.8 1.09%
NI225 17143.0 17274.2 16819.7 2.32%