New Zealand shares rose to a two-month high, paced by Chorus, Kathmandu and Sky Network Television as the prospects of strong economic growth drew retail investors to the equity market. Hallenstein Glasson Holdings tumbled after posting weak December sales.
The NZX 50 Index advanced 8.256 points, or about 0.2 percent, to 4921.290, the highest since Nov. 15. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 17 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $184 million, the highest so far this year.
Business confidence has soared to a 20 year high amid signs of a broadening pickup in the New Zealand economy, according to the Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion this week, stoking optimism the local share market will extend a two-year rally in 2014.
Chorus, the network provider and one of last year's worst performers, rose 2.3 percent to $1.575, while outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu rose 2.1 percent to $3.42. Sky TV gained 1.8 percent to $6.10.
"A lot more retail investors are heading into the market for the year ahead, and that's where we are seeing the inflows," Bryon Burke, head of equities at Craigs Investment Partners said.
Hallenstein tumbled 18 percent to $3.50 after saying December sales fell 10 percent from the same month of 2012. First-half profit will decline as much as 39 percent to between $6 million and $6.3 million, said the Auckland based company, which has previously flagged the threat of increased rivalry from internet-based retailers.
"They're still making money, that's the good thing." Burke said. "I think there's a lot of retail companies still struggling with online sales. It may be a specific apparel thing, rather than general merchandise."
Warehouse, the biggest listed retailer, fell 1.3 percent to $3.74 and children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch dropped 2.7 percent to 73 cents.
Guinness Peat Group jumped 5.8 percent to 63.5 cents after a late rally, leading the index higher.
Fletcher Building gained 0.3 percent to $9.06 and Telecom climbed 1.3 percent to $2.43. Auckland International Airport was unchanged at $3.55 while Xero fell 2.6 percent from a record to $41.25.
Air New Zealand, which announced an alliance with Singapore Airlines, rose 0.6 percent to $1.70.
Xero, cloud-based accounting company, fell 2.6 percent from a record to $41.25 after it was issued a 'please explain' from the stock market regulator for its 42 percent gain throughout December and January.
"The regulators have said, hang on a second, your price has risen yet you've said nothing, why is that?" said Burke.
Wynyard Group, the security software company, extending its gains, rising 6.7 percent to a record-high close of $2.40.
"A lot of these companies aren't turning a profit but it's a definite trend. People are trying to put a few more growth stocks in their portfolios so they don't miss out on the next Xero," Burke said.
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