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MARKET CLOSE: Stockmarket rally runs out of steam

Wednesday 2nd February 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket rode along with a global stockmarket rally today but with less vigour than other markets.

Rising commodity prices buoyed mining stocks and strong corporate earnings provided a positive backdrop in many markets but in New Zealand the earnings season is yet to kick off and a rise in the NZ dollar above US78c today hurt some exporters.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up just 3.383 points, or 0.115%, at 3352.302, having retreated from the session high of 3372.261.

Turnover was worth $128.84 million, of which $59 million was in Fletcher Building shares. There were 50 rises and 32 falls among the 115 stocks traded.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) fell 3c to $2.22 after it advised its weighting in the S&P ASX 200 index will fall to around 25% to 30 percent of its current weighting due to changes in index methodology.

Insurance stocks in Australia were under pressure today on worries about claims from approaching Cyclone Yasi, while in New Zealand insurer Tower was accused of being over capitalised at its annual meeting today.

"If we make a decision to return capital, we'll tell you," chairman Tony Gibbs told shareholders.

Tower (NZX: TWR ) shares were unchanged at $1.95 today as were Guinness Peat Group (NZX: GPG ) shares at 68.

Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ), which owns 24.55% of North Queensland Airports, the operator of Cairns and Mackay airports in Queensland, fell 3c to $2.24.

"We are monitoring the situation and we are in close contact with them," Richard Llewellyn, a spokesman for Auckland Airport said.

Air NZ (NZX: AIR ), which cancelled one direct flight from Auckland to Cairns today, was unchanged at $1.38.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) rose 12c to $7.90, SkyCity (NZX: SKC ) rose 5c to $3.36 and Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) rose 14c to $8.40. Infratil (NZX: IFT ) rose 2c to $1.91 and Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) rose 1c to $3.63.

OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) rose 5c to $3.50 but NZOG (NZX: NZO ) was unchanged at 87. Bathurst Resources (NZX: BTU ) rose 10c to $1.40 and New Zealand Refining (NZX: NZR ) rose 9c to $4.80.

Newly-merged Building Society Holdings (NZX: BSH ) slipped 2c to 86, after debuting yesterday with an opening price of 95.

PGG Wrightson (NZX: PGW ) fell a cent to 53 and Pyne Gould Corp (NZX: PGC ) shares fell 2c to 33.

In the US, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed above 1300 for the first time in 2-1/2 years and looked poised for more gains due to strong earnings and a surge in US manufacturing.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.3% to 12,040.16, the S&P 500 up 1.7% to 1307.57, and the Nasdaq Composite Index up 1.9% to 2751.19.



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