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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks gain, boosted by Heartland Bank

Wednesday 10th May 2017

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New Zealand stocks gained, led by local lender Heartland Bank for a second day as its rival Australian-owned banks faced new deposit levies across the Tasman, while Comvita extended its decline. 



The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 12  points or 0.2 percent to 7,424.200.  Within the index, 30 stocks rose, seven were unchanged and 13 fell. Turnover was $207 million. 



Heartland Bank led the index higher, added 3.4 percent to $1.81. The New Zealand-owned lender has the widest net interest margins among local banks as it eschews much of the mortgage market for more profitable, but riskier, business. Its larger Australian rivals, which dominate the mortgage market, are facing increased regulatory costs and yesterday the Australian federal government announced a deposit levy across the Tasman. 



A2 Milk added 1.9 percent to $3.67. Units in the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund rose 1.7 percent at $5.99 after Fonterra Cooperative Group announced a higher forecast payment for Australian suppliers in the 2017/18 season than for the current season. 



Retirement and aged care operators were mixed, with Summerset Group up 1.4 percent to $5.04 and the recently listed Oceania Healthcare climbing 5.1 percent to 82 cents. Ryman Healthcare, the biggest listed retirement village operator, slipped 0.6 percent to $8.43. 



"We have seen a bit of a bounce in the retirement sectors," said Brad Gordon, investment adviser for Hobson Wealth Partners. "Summerset is up after being quite weak of late and Oceania has bounced after a fairly lacklustre opening," he said. 



Gordon said the index was also supported by Chorus, which added 1.3 percent to $4.64 and remains in favour after joining Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index. 



On the downside, Auckland International Airport fell 1.6 percent to $6.86, and Gordon said the stock was weighing on the index, and likely driven by some offshore flows. "Overall, the airport story remains very, very strong." 



Comvita continues to struggle, falling 3.6 percent to $5.88 in the biggest decline on the benchmark index as investors continue to fret about the potential impact of the myrtle rust fungal plant. Gordon said there could be some buying interest around these levels and the stock may be oversold given there wasn't any evidence that the situation is dire. 



Xero rose  1.6 percent to $21.85 as investors take positions ahead of its results Thursday, while Z Energy, which is also reporting tomorrow, added 0.4 percent to $7.83. "The market will be looking out for margin trends," said Gordon.



The property companies are still garnering "a wee bit of a bid" as they are "very much a yield play," he said. Goodman Property Trust increased 0.4 percent to $1.22 while Property for Industries gained 0.3 percent to $1.61.  Stride Property advanced 1.2 percent to $1.75. 



New Zealand's Reserve Bank is due to published its monetary policy statement Thursday. Economists are widely expecting rates to remain on hold at a record low 1.75 percent but will be watching its forecasts closely to see when it expects to begin lifting rates. Rising interest rates reduce the attraction of stocks offering relatively high dividend yields. 





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