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Market Close: NZ stocks shed gains, Hallenstein drops

Tuesday 4th November 2008

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New Zealand stocks pared their gains, with the NZX 50 Index ending the day down 0.4%, after retailer Hallenstein Glasson Holdings said profit will drop and as about 3% of Ryman Healthcare changed hands.

The NZX 50 Index fell 12.354 to 2844.31 at the 5 p.m. close of trading in Wellington, the first decline in five days. Telecom Corp. fell 2.9% to NZ$2.37 and Vector Ltd. slid 2.9% to NZ$1.98.

Australian financials rose after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its target rate a greater-than-expected 75 basis points to 5.25% and said international economic data have continued to point to "significant weakness in the major industrial economies."

Westpac rose 4.8% to NZ$25.15 on the NZX, AMP gained 4.2% to NZ$6.70 and ANZ Banking Group advanced 1.5% to NZ$21. The S&P/ASX 200 Index trimmed an earlier decline to be down 0.2% in late afternoon trading. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Index was up 5.5% to 9055.45 in mid-day trading.

"The outlook for the economy, both ours and globally, is for some weakness and some uncertainty," said Stephen Walker, head of asset management at Goldman Sachs JBWere (NZ). Still, "when you look at the stock market there's a lot of value there. The question is, what do you do with those two beliefs."

Hallenstein fell 2.9% to NZ$2.38 after the clothing chain said first-half profit will slide as weakening demand in New Zealand erodes sales. "Given current trends, profit will be considerably below" the $9.2 million it earned in the first half of last year, it said.

The retailer "is more exposed to the domestic economy and discretionary spending and that environment is pretty nasty," Walker said.

Briscoe Group Ltd. gained 5% to 84 cents after saying full-year profit won't be as weak as was implied by the company's first-half earning slump. Warehouse Group Ltd., which may elicit a takeover offer from Woolworths of Australia, rose 1% to NZ$3.99.

Jeweler Michael Hill International fell 2.8% to 69 cents. Figures this week may show the jobless rate rose to 4.3% in the third quarter from 3.9% in the second, underlining the impact of a shrinking economy.

Ryman sank 3.8% to NZ$1.51 after 20.8 million shares changed hands. The stock has dropped 24% this year. APN News & Media was unchanged at NZ$2.85 on the NZX. It jumped 3.7% to A$3.09 on the ASX amid speculation Seven Network or West Australian Newspapers may bid for Tony O'Reilly's 39% stake.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances rose 3.5% to NZ$1.50, helped by the weakening New Zealand dollar and lower costs for raw materials.

Salvus Strategic Investments didn't trade today and last changed hands at 78 cents on Nov. 3. The investment company today said the value of its assets fell 14% last quarter, as the collapse in global equity markets eroded investors' willingness to take on risk.

While the company has increased its holdings of cash to 16% of its total portfolio, many stocks that meet its criteria are "currently trading at deeply discounted valuations that do not reflect their underlying fundamentals," it said in a statement.

Among Salvus's biggest holdings, New Zealand Oil & Gas was unchanged at NZ$1.32 and tap-maker Methven Ltd. rose 2% to NZ$1.48.


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