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MARKET CLOSE: Shares buoyed by blue chip gains

Tuesday 22nd March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket continued to recover from last week's three-month low, holding onto gains made in early trade as blue chip stocks buoyed the market.

Stocks rose across the globe as risk appetite returned, following progress in resolving Japan's nuclear crisis.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 16.86 points, or 0.5%, at 3365.2, having risen nearly 9 points yesterday.

Among the top stocks, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) closed up 5c at $8.78, Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) was up 2c at $5.76, Telecom (NZX: TEL ) gained 0.5c to $1.99, Sky City (NZX: SKC ) rose 3c to $3.36 and Sky TV (NZX: SKT ) was up 4c at $5.59.

Infrastructure investor Infratil (NZX: IFT ) was up 2c at $1.93, lines company Vector (NZX: VCT ) was up 5c at $2.46, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (NZX: FPH ) was up 4c at $3.13.

Freightways (NZX: FRE ) was up 6c at $3.12, while Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) was unchanged at $8.70.

Retailer The Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) was up 3c at $3.42, jeweller Michael Hill International (NZX: MHI ) was a cent higher at 91, while clothing retailers Hallenstein Glasson (NZX: HLG ) and Pumpkin Patch (NZX: PPL ) were steady at $3.65 and $1.30 respectively. Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu (NZX: KMD ) rose 6c to $2.22.

Insurer and fund manager Tower (NZX: TWR ) was a cent higher at $1.74, stock exchange operator NZX (NZX: NZX ) fell a cent to $2.04, and accounting software developer Xero (NZX: XRO ) rose 4c to $2.52.

Just 11 stocks declined on the top-50, including a 4c fall for Methven (NZX: MVN ) to $1.52, a 7c fall for Steel & Tube (NZX: STU ) to $2.52, a 1c fall for Air New Zealand (NZX: AIR ) to $1.11 and a 2c fall for Rakon (NZX: RAK ) to $1.04.

Australian banking stocks rose, with Westpac (NZX: WBC ) up 20c at $31.20 and ANZ (NZX: ANZ ) up 65c at $31.85, while Telstra (NZX: TLS ) fell 4c to $3.61.

Across the Tasman, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was down a point at 4640. Japan's Nikkei share average was up 3.8% this afternoon, having partly recovered from its 14% slump last week on fears about its crippled nuclear reactor.

In the US, buyers were enticed by the biggest proposed merger of the year.

AT&T rose 1.1% after the company announced a US$39 billion (NZ$53 billion) plan to buy Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA, refocusing investor attention on attractive company valuations.



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