MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares drop following Wall St selloff

(BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell following a selloff on Wall Street on Friday, with index futures pointing to further US weakness. Pushpay Holdings, Kathmandu Holdings, Synlait Milk, Summerset Group, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, a2 Milk and Ebos Group all dropped more than 3 percent.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 173.46 points, or 2.1 percent, to 8,241.83. Within the index, 49 stocks declined, none rose and one was unchanged. Turnover was $92 million.

"It's a pretty broad-based pullback," said James Smalley, investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Futures trading shows US benchmarks will fall further, and "our market is trying to anticipate what's going to happen in the US tonight."

Smalley said volumes were relatively light on the New Zealand bourse with many investors content to "sit on the sidelines" pending company earnings this month before reviewing their holdings. So far there have been few profit warnings, which suggests earnings will be close to consensus, he said.

One company that did provide a profit warning, CBL Corp, was unchanged on the day at $3.17, having fallen 18 percent in the past 12 months. The credit surety and financial risk insurer said today that it had a net loss of $75 million to $85 million in calendar 2017 because of an increase in the future claims reserve for its French construction insurance business and a write-off of receivables in that business. As a result, it is planning to raise more capital.

Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu fell 3.8 percent to $2.31, leading the index lower. Pushpay, which targets the US church market with its payment app, fell 3.2 percent to $3.97. Synlait Milk dropped 3.6 percent to $6.75 and a2 declined 3.3 percent to $9.04.

Summerset led declines among retirement village operators, falling 2.6 percent to $5.55. F&P Healthcare, which gets much of its sales in US dollars, fell 3.5 percent to $12.88. Ebos declined 3.1 percent to $17.79.

NZME, the publisher of the NZ Herald newspaper, fell 2.4 percent to 82 cents. NZME and Fairfax Media Group will appeal a High Court decision upholding their blocked merger and will focus on the issue of plurality. "After careful review and analysis of the High Court's reasons, the companies continue to believe that the NZCC (New Zealand Commerce Commission) was wrong in fact and wrong in law to decline clearance or authorisation of the merger," NZME said in a statement.

NZX fell 1.8 percent to $1.10. New Zealand share trading surged on the NZX in January and values also pushed higher as low interest rates continue to fuel interest in the market given limited returns for debt securities and bank deposits, its monthly metrics showed. Total equity trades on the NZX jumped 96 percent to 212,909 in January from the same month a year ago and the total value of trades lifted 25 percent to $2.7 billion, NZX said.

The decline in US shares on Friday sparked a global slide and followed strong US jobs data fuelled concerns US inflation will accelerate faster.


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