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The week in review

Friday 6th October 2000

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The New Zealand dollar fell to a new low of 39.97USc on Wednesday before closing at 40.33USc. The Australian Reserve Bank has earlier surprised the markets by failing to lift interest rates, sending both Australasian currencies lower.

Economic growth ground to a halt in the June quarter. Gross domestic product shrank 0.7% and forecasters are picking March-year growth of 3.1%, down from 4.1% three months ago.

Shares in all three Fletcher Challenge divisions dropped as the group confirmed delays in deciding the divisions' fates. FCL now hopes to effect its dismantlement in the first quarter of next year. Telecom shares also hit a four-year low as investors sold telco stocks worldwide.

A raft of companies announced price hikes. Microsoft said the falling dollar had brought product price differentials to unsustainable levels while Tranz Rail blamed fuel price increases.

US media player Clear Channel, part owner of The Radio Network, said it would expand its New Zealand presence, looking for investments in the outdoor advertising and live entertainment fields.

Contact Energy is looking for a buyer for two 54MW diesel generators from its Whirinaki plant. It said the two were expensive backups that hadn't been used for years. Contact has spent $47.7 million buying back 18 million shares.

Pacific Retail paid $4.4 million for homeware retailer Living & Giving's stores, five in Auckland and one in Hamilton. The chain was set up in 1987 by Peter Jackson and Sally Bisley.

Viking Pacific, the former Skellerup Group, sold hire equipment arm Projex to a joint venture between a Grant Samuel private equity fund and Dunedin-based Hirequip. The price was reported to be $40 million.

Pyne Gould Corporation reported a $17.2 million June-year profit, down from $19.7 million, after accounting for $5 million of gains from one-off items and accounting changes. The 1999 profit included $9 million of one-off gains.

Zespri's kiwifruit grower-owners, wary of a corporate raid such as the GPG-FR Partners foray into apple marketer Enza, forced the company to reassess planned share issues worth $7 million. Growers will vote at a special meeting.

Monopoly apple marketer Enza is suing independent apple exporter Fresh NZ, alleging Fresh has cost it sales and cut prices.

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