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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares edge higher as stocks advance across Asia

Friday 12th October 2012

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New Zealand shares rose, snapping three declines, as stocks advanced across Asia after Singapore's central bank backed away from monetary stimulus in the face of rising inflation and a slowing economy.

The NZX 50 index rose 13.35 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3896.66, pushing it down 0.2 percent on the week. Within the index, 33 stocks gains, eight fell, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $76.2 million.

Stocks across Asia crept up, with Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index up 0.2 percent in afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index up 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index up 0.5 percent. The Monetary Authority of Singapore surprised markets by not slowing the pace of appreciation in the nation's currency to stoke economic growth, with mounting inflation an issue despite an economic slowdown.

"The market's having a bit of a breather - we've just had a very strong quarter, and a lot of these stocks are what's considered a fair price," said Bryon Burke, head dealer at Craigs Investment Partners. "People want to see what the next move is and they're keeping their eyes on overseas markets."

Gold miner OceanaGold led the index higher, gaining 2.4 percent to $4.30, followed by courier and data management firm Freightways, up 2.1 percent to $2.33. NZ Refining advanced 1.8 percent to $2.85 and stock exchange operator NZX rose 1.8 percent to $1.15.

Burke said the mid-cap companies, meaning those firms in the middle of the index, had a strong day, and helped lift the NZX 50 higher.

"A lot of smaller stocks have caught up now" after the strong September quarter rally, he said.

Rural services firm PGG Wrightson was the biggest decliner on the day, falling 2.8 percent to 35 cents. The top two executives of Wrightson parent Agria unexpectedly resigned this week, though the Chinese-based company said their exit wouldn't impact its investment intentions for the New Zealand firm.

Jewellery chain Michael Hill International fell 1.7 percent to $1.18, Westpac Banking declined 1.7 percent to $32.20 and children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch decreased 0.9 percent to $1.21.

Insurance group Tower gained 0.6 percent to $1.76 after it appointed insolvency specialist Michael Stiassny to its board as an independent director. Tower is rejigging its strategy, as cornerstone shareholder Guinness Peat Group looks to exit its investment. Shares in GPG were unchanged at 53.5 cents.

Fletcher Building, the biggest listed company, rose 0.1 percent to $7.25, while Telecom, the second-biggest company on the bourse, was unchanged at $2.325.

Steel & Tube fell 0.9 percent to $2.16, extending its decline after majority owner Arrium sold its controlling stake at a discounted price earlier this week.


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