The New Zealand sharemarket drifted lower today, in the absence of corporate news and clear leads from offshore markets.
The benchmark NZX-50 index, which opened slightly higher, closed 4.05 points down at 3230.83. Overall there were 30 rises and 46 falls among the 120 stocks that traded, on turnover of $129.6 million
The market's largest stock Fletcher Building gained 3c to 809, while Telecom eased 1c to 202 and Contact Energy shed 3c to 569.
Grant Williamson, director of Christchurch broker Hamilton Hindin Greene, said Fletcher Building had been under some profit-taking pressure in the past week or so after reaching 850 soon after the Canterbury earthquake.
"It has got back to its normal trading range now. I think investors are starting to realise that repairing of Christchurch's damaged buildings is more of a long-term project and there are no short-term gains to be had," he told NZPA.
"They are probably being a bit more realistic."
Prices of utilities were mixed today after Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard warned them not to use GST as a veil to increase their margins. Trustpower joined Contact in negative territory – down 3c to 737 – while Vector edged up 1c to 233.
But Mr Williamson said these companies have to maintain a reasonable rate of return for their investment and assets, and any price weakness in those stocks today was more a reflection of the slight weakness in the sharemarket.
Pike River Coal closed 1c lower at 119, after being at a near two-year peak of 123 earlier today, having gained 7c yesterday on a positive progress report for its West Coast mine.
Other stocks to ease included Air New Zealand 1c to 130, Cavalier Corp 3c to 297, Nuplex 4c to 322, Steel and Tube 4c to 243, The Warehouse 2c to 386 and Pyne Gould Corp 1c to 41.
Fisher & Paykel Appliances firmed 1c to 58, while the Healthcare stock gained 2c to 315.
Michael Hill was up 1c to 71 and Sanford up 5c to 405.