MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares join Asia rally, led by dual-listed ANZ, Trade Me

Mark Lister

New Zealand shares joined a rally across Asia as stock markets took their lead from Wall Street on a day when firms posted better-than-expected earnings. Dual-listed stocks Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Trade Me led the local bourse higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 9.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7197.21. Within the index, 17 stocks gain, 18 fell and 15 were unchanged. Turnover was $135 million.

The local market has been following international trends in recent months as heightened uncertainty over Europe's political direction and the ability of US President Donald Trump's administration to pass its policy objectives keeps investors nervous. Stocks across Asia rose with Australia's S&P/ASX up 0.7 percent in afternoon trading and South Korea's Kospi 200 index gaining 1 percent, following Wall Street higher.

"The US markets have had probably more down days than up days over the last fortnight and there's been a little bit of a bounce after a period of weakness," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "There's no real stand-out performers on the upside or the downside and it seems to be a bit quieter because of school holidays and the shortened week."

Dual-listed stocks were at the top of the leaderboard, headed by ANZ which gained 2.4 percent to $34.19. Trade Me Group rose 2.2 percent to $5.12 and Air New Zealand advanced 2.1 percent to $2.49. Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1.3 percent to $36.96.

Fletcher Building increased 0.8 percent to $7.91. The building products and construction firm has been the subject of rumours that investment banks are looking to pitch a break-up or buy-out of the company, although Craigs' Lister didn't think there was much truth to the speculation.

"No-one seems to really believe that. If they did you would have seen the share price strengthen on the back of those reports and they still seem to be in the dog box in the investment community," Lister said.

Spark New Zealand and Auckland International Airport were unchanged at $3.615 and $6.69 respectively.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand was unchanged at $5.25. About half of the fast food operator's unionised workforce will tomorrow picket stores around the country after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke down. About 2,000 of Restaurant Brands' 4,000 staff are members of the Unite Union, and they haven't taken industrial against the company since 2006.

Vista Group International posted the biggest fall on the day, down 1.5 percent to $5.86, while Comvita declined 1.4 percent to $7.20. Mainfreight decreased 0.9 percent to $21.80.

Outside the benchmark index, NPT was unchanged at 63 cents after shareholders led by Augusta Capital voted to block a proposed deal with Kiwi Property Group and spill the board. Kiwi Property shares slipped 0.7 percent to $1.41 and Augusta shares rose 1 percent to $1.

Wellington Drive Technologies rose 3.6 percent to 29 cents after affirming annual earnings guidance and saying first-quarter sales were up 30 percent.

Michael Hill International was unchanged at $1.25 after Fisher Funds Management emerged as a substantial shareholder in the jewellery chain.


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