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MARKET CLOSE: Sharemarket lifts as economy posts modest gain

Thursday 24th March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket was firm today as the NZ dollar rallied on news that a recession was averted in the December quarter.

The international backdrop was also positive with equity markets in Asia posting gains but the corporate news flow in this market was meagre.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 11.455 points, or 0.339%, at 3387.245. Turnover was worth $121.99 million. There were 43 rises and 30 falls among the 108 stocks traded.

News that the economy expanded by 0.2% in the December quarter was well received by financial markets fearing a negative number but economists said the broad message from the data was that exporters were doing well while household spending stalled.

"GDP (Gross Domestic Product) helped but it is a lagging fact. We've had another earthquake since then and our feeling is things are pretty tough out there," said James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital.

He said property listings had kicked on today and volume in Telecom was good.

DNZ Property (NZX: DNZ ) rose 3c to $1.24 after it said that brewer Lion Nathan had extended the lease on its huge East Tamaki site. The transaction reduced DNZ Property's lease expiry risk.

Property for Industry (NZX: PFI ) rose 2c to $1.16 and AMP Office (NZX: ANO ) rose 1c to 81.

Hallenstein Glasson (NZX: HLG ) rose 2c to $3.73 after reporting a 16.5% fall in interim profit.

NZ Refining (NZX: NZR ) was unchanged at $5.00 after saying its refining margin was healthy in January and February.

OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) lifted 13c to $3.55, with spot gold prices near recent records.

Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) shares rose 11c to $8.79 on a day it received shareholder approval for its purchase of Wim Bosman Group.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU )  lifted 10c to $8.95, and Telecom (NZX: TEL ) eased 0.5c to $1.99.5. Sky City (NZX: SKC ) was down 1c to $3.34. Rakon (NZX: RAK ) eased 2c to $1.01, Ebos (NZX: EBO ) eased 5c to $7.45 and Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) eased 1c to $5.78. Air NZ (NZX: AIR ) eased 1c to $1.10 and Kathmandu (NZX: KMD ) eased 2c to 220.

In the US, stocks advanced as materials shares rose, but rising commodities prices due to turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa could keep rallies modest.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.6% to 12,086.02, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3% to 1297.54, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.5% to 2698.30.



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