New Zealand shares were dragged lower by global nuclear tension with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Sky TV hit hardest while Hallenstein Glasson Holding rose on positive earnings.
The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 70.60 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,719.11. Within the index, 37 stocks fell, eight rose and five were unchanged. Turnover was $132 million.
The local bourse was weak all day after nervousness about nuclear tensions between North Korea and the United States dragged global equities down overnight, with Wall Street's fear gauge - the CBOE Volatility Index or VIX - jumping 44 percent to 16.04, the highest it has been since US President Donald Trump was elected on Nov. 8 last year.
F&P Healthcare was the worst performer, down 2.8 percent to $11.10, while Sky TV dropped 2.8 percent to $3.16 and CBL Corp declined 2.7 percent to $3.63.
"We have seen a wee bit of buying come back into the marketplace, it was down 1 percent earlier in the day," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "There has been quite a major turnaround in Fletcher and Spark since about midday when Australian investors started coming online which is a good reason for the overall improvement in the market, but apart from those two it is pretty much red ink across the board from other large listed companies."
Spark New Zealand was the best performer, up 1.2 percent to $3.915, while Fletcher Building dropped 0.6 percent to $7.92, having fallen as low as $7.82 in the first hour of trading today.
The benchmark index has been hitting record highs recently, and is still up 13 percent so far this year, and Williamson said today could just be some buyers taking profit ahead of the mid-year reporting season which begins in earnest next week.
"If the market does have a correction on relatively light volume it shows there's not a lot of selling, just a case of buyers being patient and sitting back a bit," he said.
All three companies reporting on Monday joined into today's sell-off. Contact Energy fell 1.3 percent to $5.38, Heartland Bank declined 1.1 percent to $1.86 and Freightways was down 0.6 percent to $8.10.
Outside the benchmark index, Hallenstein Glasson Holdings gained 3.1 percent to $3.29. The clothing retailer posted a 7 percent increase in annual sales and said profit was about 25 percent higher than the previous year.
Sales rose to $239 million in the 12 months ended Aug. 1, from $223.5 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based retailer said in a statement. Net profit was between $17 million and $17.5 million, ahead of $13.7 million the prior year, it said. The company will release its full profit details on Sept. 28.
"It surprised the market on the upside, a little bit of positive news in a rather dull day on the market," Williamson said.
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