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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Nuplex, Freightways, WHS, FBU drop

Wednesday 27th January 2010

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New Zealand shares fell as questions over the pace of world growth and China’s demand for raw materials weighed on the region’s equity markets.

At home, Auckland International Airport (NZX: AIA ) is tapping investors for $126 million while turnover on the NZX 50 Index picked up to $53.8 million today.

The benchmark index fell 15.49, or 0.5%, to 3193.573, the eighth increase in nine sessions. Within the index, 17 stocks fell, 11 rose and 20 were unchanged.

Freightways (NZX: FRE ), the courier and logistics firm, shed 2.4% to $3.20, second only to Nuplex’s (NZX: NPX ) 3.5% decline to $3.27, ending a three-day rally.

Australian lenders tracked their ASX-listed shares lower, as the S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.6% to 4644.60. Westpac (NZX: WBC ) dropped 1.6% to $31 and ANZ (NZX: ANZ ) fell 1.2% to $28.

Shares fell in Australia after figures showed consumer prices picked up pace to 0.5% in the fourth quarter, stoking expectations the Reserve Bank of Australia will raise interest rates as soon as next week. NZ central bank Governor Alan Bollard is expected to hold the official cash rate unchanged at 2.5% tomorrow so investors will be listening for any signs that he is deviating from a mid-year rate hike.

Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) fell 1.6% to $3.82. In Australia, Woolworths declined 2.3% after it posted a smaller-than-expected 4.1% increase in second-quarter sales and said demand may run out of puff in second half.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances (NZX: FPA ) fell 1.6% to 60 cents and Pyne Gould (NZX: PGC ) fell 2% to 48 cents.

New Zealand Refining (NZX: NZR ) fell 1.3% to $3.90 though Pike River Coal (NZX: PRC ) traded unchanged at $1, while resources companies in Australia dipped.

Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) rose 1.4% to $5.65, the biggest advance on the NZX 50. Managing director Don Braid told the New Zealand Transport Intelligence Briefing newsletter that port reform and putting KiwiRail on a stronger footing were the two biggest transport issues facing the nation.

Xero (NZX: XRO ) rose 3.2% to $1.62. Today Xero announced an agreement with Yodlee, giving it access to more bank feeds to speed its global expansion.  Being able to access bank account details lifts the effectiveness of Xero’s accounting services and lifts the prospects for sales in the US and Europe.

Abano Healthcare (NZX: ABA ) fell about 3% to $5.90 after the specialist health clinic investor posted a decline in operating earnings and said EPS growth would track as strongly as expected because fewer shareholders had elected to have the company buy back their stock.

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