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MARKET CLOSE: Fletcher Building lifts NZ sharemarket higher

Monday 7th February 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket rose today as Fletcher Building shares pushed to a three month high and after the United States market had its best week in about two months.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 19.594 points, or 0.582%, at 3387.412. Turnover was worth $125.26 million. There were 54 rises and 30 falls among the 121 stocks traded.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) rose 19c, or 2.36%, to $8.23 and traded as high as $8.24, a level not seen since early November.

Brokers attributed the rise to Fletcher Building's likely inclusion in the S&P/ASX 200 index after taking over Crane Group.

While Telecom (NZX: TEL ) fell 3c to $2.21, it expects its weighting S&P/ASX 200 index will decrease to around 25% to 30% of its current level. Brokers said the weighting is currently around 0.26% and the changes are in a month's time.

Volume was high in Telecom with 16.5 million shares traded, while 3.74 million Fletcher Building shares traded.

The index change resulting from a change in methodology was applying downside pressure to Telecom's share price, James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital said. Fund managers were adjusting to the changes.

"Index inclusion can be material for stocks," he said.

The benefits of a joint bid by Telecom and Vodafone for the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative were seen as being some way off.

PGG Wrightson (NZX: PGW ) shares fell 3c to 59 as investors continue to assess the chances of a second bid for the company, which is subject to a bid for control from interests associated with China's Agria. The company has opened its books to an unnamed potential second bidder. Federated Farmers said last week it was considering media reports that Canada's Agrium may be a new suitor as it already owns 50% of rural services firm RD1.

Lee said an existing industry player would have higher synergy benefits than Agria and there was still time for a competing offer to emerge.

Freightways (NZX: FRE ) gained 8c to $3.28, NZ Refining (NZX: NZR ) rose 8c to $4.93 and Steel & Tube (NZX: STU ) rose 5c to $2.35. SkyTV (NZX: SKT ) rose 2c to $5.40 and Ebos Group (NZX: EBO ) rose 8c to $7.58.

Tourism Holdings (NZX: THL ) rose 4c to 63, having lost 15c on Friday after the company signalled a breach of banking covenants in the March quarter, and cut its full-year forecast to a $4 million loss from a $2.5 million net profit previously forecast.

Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) rose 7c to $6.25 and Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) rose 2c to $2.26.

NZ Wool Services International (NZX: WSI ) gained 3c to 50, while Cavalier Carpets (NZX: CAV ) fell 8c to $3.12.

Mercer Group (NZX: MGL ) traded at 5.5c after saying underwriters will pick up 59% of its $9 million rights issue.

In the US, signs of improvement in the economy and strong corporate earnings have propelled stock prices, but tapering volume, meagre gains and declining numbers of advancing stocks pointed to waning buying interest at the end of the week.

On Friday (local time), the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3% at 12,092.15, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.3% at 1310.87, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.6% at 2769.30.

For the week the Dow rose 2.3% the S&P 500 rose 2.7% and the Nasdaq gained 3.1%.



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