New Zealand shares rose in subdued January trading, led by Metlifecare, Telecom and PGG Wrightson, as investors were drawn to the yields available on equities in the face of low interest rates.
The NZX 50 Index rose 5.52 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4090.36. Within the index, 13 stocks rose, 25 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $82.8 million.
Metlifecare, the retirement village operator that joined the NZX 50 on December 24, rose 4.4 percent to $3.35, the highest since November 2008.
Rival rest home company Ryman Healthcare fell 0.2 percent to $4.76, though it has soared 73 percent in the past 12 months.
Summerset Group, which joined the benchmark index at the same time as Metlifecare, fell 0.4 percent to $2.25 and has also gained 73 percent in the past year.
Telecom, the second-largest company on the exchange, rose 2.3 percent to $2.24. The phone company has a dividend yield of 13.6 percent.
Fast food operator Restaurant Brands, with a dividend yield of 8.8 percent, gained 1.9 percent to $2.75. Sky City Entertainment Group, with a dividend yield of 5.9 percent, rose 1.3 percent to $3.77.
"In a low interest rate environment, people are looking to boost income through the stock market," says James Smalley, client adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Continually low yields on fixed income are forcing investors to look elsewhere."
Wrightson, the nation's biggest rural services company, rose 2.2 percent to 46 cents.
Mr Smalley says strong demand in Fonterra's sale of units in its shareholders' fund last year had focused attention on the rural sector "as a pretty good place to invest".
"It's now up to them to justify that as we move into reporting season."
Kathmandu, the children's clothing chain, rose 2 percent to $2.04, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which makes breathing masks and respirators, gained 1.7 percent to $2.47.
Air New Zealand, the national carrier, rose 0.4 percent to $1.31.
Steel & Tube Holdings, which supplies steel products to the building industry, fell 2.8 percent to $2.40 and was the biggest decliner on the index today.
NZ Oil & Gas fell 2.3 percent to 86 cents and Chorus, the network company spun off from Telecom in 2011, fell 1.7 percent to $2.85.
Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, declined 0.4 percent to $8.45.
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