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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks rise on appetite for blue chips

Tuesday 9th November 2010

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New Zealand stocks rose for the first time in three sessions, outperforming most other Asia Pacific markets as increased risk appetite for kiwi blue chip stocks helped the market shrug off European sovereign debt concerns. Telecom paced gainers on the day, while Property for Industry fell.

The NZX 50 Index rose 5.37 points, or 0.16%, to 3,321.77. Within the index, 14 stocks rose, 24 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $110.3 million.

Asian markets were mostly oversold today, as fears that Ireland will not be able to repay its sovereign debt weighed on sentiment. In afternoon trade Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.5% to 9,686.32, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.3% to 24,889.53, and Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.9% to 4,733.5.

“We are looking at a pretty good performance today considering the weakness from offshore, particularly in the US last night and in Australia today,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. “We are starting to see some heavy volume in bigger companies, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was overseas investors coming into our market looking for the blue chip stock, and taking advantage of the kiwi dollar.”

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) rose 1.9% to $2.12, and accounted for 44% of the turnover on the exchange today.

Earlier in the day, the Competition Commission released a report which said New Zealanders are paying an average of 26% more for telephone calls from landlines than in other developed countries.

The regulator said the country's high monthly line rental charged by Telecom, the only operator with a nationwide network, led to the country's poor ranking among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

“It’s not a good look, but I don’t think anything is going to change in a hurry,” Williamson said. “It hasn’t affected Telecom at all today.”

Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) rose 1.6% to $3.58, after data from Statistics New Zealand showed consumers lifted purchases on their debit and credit cards last month. Electronic card transactions at retailers rose 0.8% in October, after climbing 1.7% in the previous month.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (NZX: FPH ) rose 1.4% to $2.96, Guinness Peat Group (NZX: GPG ) rose 1.4% to 74 cents, and AMP NZ Office Trust (NZX: ANO ) rose 1.3% to 78 cents.

ANZ (NZX: ANZ ) rose 0.2% to $30.55 after it said it was bringing the old ING New Zealand unit in-house a year after the Australian parent bank bought the remaining 51% of the trans-Tasman funds manager it didn’t own.

OnePath, the new name for the ING unit, has been rolled into the bank’s ANZ Wealth group, centralising the lender’s insurance, funds management, private banking and investment arms under one umbrella.

As part of the deal, Helen Troup, who headed up the former ING units will leave the business after two years at the top. ANZ’s John Body will take charge of the merged unit from next week.

Property for Industry (NZX: PFI ) fell 2.5% to $1.17, pacing decliners on the main board.

NZX (NZX: NZX ) fell 1.9% to $1.55, Pumpkin Patch (NZX: PPL ) fell 1.6% to $1.90, and Argosy Property Trust (NZX: ARG ) fell 1.3% to 79 cents.

Shares in Auckland International Airport (NZX: AIA ) fell 0.5% to $2.14 after the national gate said it's secured a new Tapei service with China Airways and increased capacity on Malaysia Airways to and from Kuala Lumpur.

Adding more Jetstar flights between Auckland and Singapore, the airline expects to lift the annual average number of seats on Asian routes by 16%, or 375,000.

Wakefield Health (NZX: WFD ) fell 0.8% to $6.55 after it posted a 21% decline in first-half earnings, once one-time tax and interest rate swap adjustments are removed, saying the tepid economic recovery curbed demand for private health services.

Adjusted profit fell to $2.79 million in the six months ended September 30, from $3.55 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Sales fell 2.3% to $39 million.

The one-time accounting adjustments led to a net loss of $1.87 million as it recognised changes to tax depreciation rules that rendered many companies' net income line meaningless this year.

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