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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed, A2 gains while Gentrack, Spark, bank stocks drop

Friday 4th May 2018

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New Zealand shares were mixed, with A2 Milk pulling the index up while Gentrack Group, Spark New Zealand and banking stocks dropped.


The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 2.49 points, or 0.03 percent, to 8,549.37. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 15 rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $105.3 million.


"It's a bit of a turnaround story, we had a weak open but the market has gained as the day has gone on, led by A2," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "A2 was down but a better open and firm buying in Australia has seen the price improve. If you take A2 out of the equation the market isn't showing too much life - it can turn things around pretty seriously for us."


A2 was the best performer, up 2.4 percent to $13.02, a four-week high for the stock which weakened over most of April amidst concerns about Nestle launching its own A2-protein-based infant milk formula in China. 


Synlait Milk, which supplies A2 and often trades in tandem with it, dropped 1 percent to $10.11. 


Restaurant Brands New Zealand gained 1.7 percent to $7.63, Sanford rose 1.7 percent to $7.85, and Pushpay Holdings advanced 1.5 percent to $4.06.


Gentrack Group was the worst performer, down 2.2 percent to $7.04, while NZX dropped 1.9 percent to $1.06.


Spark New Zealand fell 2 percent to $3.505. It is selling half of its Connect 8 services infrastructure unit to electricity distributor Electra Group, in a deal which will see Connect 8 take full ownership of Electra's telecommunication's contractor Sky Communications.


The dual-listed Australian-owned banks dropped further, with Westpac Banking Corp down 0.7 percent to $31.25, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group falling 0.6 percent to $29.49.


Today, the Financial Markets Authority released a letter sent to the chief executives of New Zealand's banks and New Zealand Banking Association, telling them they need to explain what they're doing to prove that they're not engaging in the same behaviour that has been uncovered in Australia's Royal Commission inquiry into the financial services sector. 


Z Energy dipped 0.7 percent to $7.46. The stock led the index's gains yesterday after Z delivered annual earnings within its lowered guidance, with profits rising as the government looks more closely at pricing strategy in the fuel sector. In the year to March 31, revenue surged 18 percent to $4.57 billion, and net profit rose 8 percent to $263 million.


Today, energy minister Megan Woods says she remains convinced that consumers are paying too much for petrol, and the government wants to give the Commerce Commission market studies powers, allowing it to investigate. Woods met with BP New Zealand managing director Debi Boffa yesterday, following a leaked email which showed the company's pricing strategy. 


"Z has held up pretty well, there hasn't been much selling of the stock and it has been improving nicely through the week, which is probably a bit surprising," Williamson said. "Obviously the result was extremely good, but that's mostly historical news - you'd think there would be a little bit of risk-off from concerns about the government taking action, but there hasn't been."


Chorus fell 0.5 percent to $4.16. It says a select committee report on changes to the regulatory framework for the telecommunications industry doesn't go far enough, and could unfairly restrict the prices it can charge and stifle innovation.


Outside the benchmark index, Delegat Group fell 0.1 percent to $8.28. New Zealand’s largest listed winemaker says it had a record harvest this year, driven by an increase in New Zealand grapes, while its Australian harvest fell.



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