MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Comvita gains as honey definition mooted, SkyCity up

New Zealand shares rose, with Comvita recovering some ground after last week's slump as the government proposed a definition of manuka honey. Tourism Holdings, SkyCity Entertainment Group and Arvida Group were among leading gainers.

New Zealand shares rose, with Comvita recovering some ground after last week's slump as the government proposed a definition of manuka honey. Tourism Holdings, SkyCity Entertainment Group and Arvida Group were among leading gainers.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 15.52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,254.38. Within the index, 31 stocks gained, 10 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $139 million, of which $31 million was trading in Spark New Zealand shares. The benchmark index reached a six-month high last week but has since slipped back to trade in a relatively narrow range.

The market "is still bouncing along on relatively high multiples in general terms," said David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr. "It's going to need a boost from earnings and probably a bit better than what we saw" in the latest round of results.

Comvita climbed 3.8 percent to $7.40, having tumbled from $8.60 last week after the manuka honey products company warned it would post an operational loss this year due to weaker-than-expected trading and a poor season for the honey harvest in New Zealand. Today, the Ministry for Primary Industries released a scientific definition of manuka honey, involving four chemicals and a DNA marker, as part of a consultation package on honey exports, saying authentication was "essential to maintaining New Zealand mānuka honey's premium position in overseas markets."

SkyCity rose 1.8 percent to $4.46 while Tourism Holdings, the campervan rental company, gained 3.1 percent to $3.70.

Arvida Group, the retirement village and aged care facilities operator, rose 1.6 percent to $1.28, while Summerset Group gained 0.9 percent to $5.45 and Ryman Healthcare rose 0.1 percent to $8.70.

Port of Tauranga rose about 2 percent to $4.10 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 1 percent to $9.74.

Opus International Consultants rose 1 percent to 97 cents after the engineering consultancy told shareholders at their annual meeting that it is seeing the benefits of its new business strategy. Chairman Kerry McDonald, who also announced his retirement in the next few months, said while the 2016 result was disappointing there were key elements that were "positive and encouraging," including in Australia and Canada which have been the two areas of "greatest difficulty".

Westpac Banking Corp rose 1.3 percent to $37.72 and Heartland Bank gained 1.2 percent to $1.70.

Spark was the biggest decliner of the NZX 50, falling 2.9 percent to $3.50 as 8.7 million shares changed hands. Infratil dipped 2.3 percent to $2.92.

Scott Technology rose 1.7 percent to $3.05. Last week the company posted a 48 percent increase in first-half profit and chief executive Chris Hopkins says a global drive for increased automation means the industrial robotics firm is in a "sweet spot".

Among other smaller companies, Trilogy International gained 3.8 percent to $2.49, Serko fell 3.6 percent to 27 cents and Rubicon fell 2.1 percent to 23.5 cents.

(BusinessDesk)